Page 4300 - Week 11 - Thursday, 25 October 2018

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The government is committed to upholding the rights of children and young people and takes particular steps to ensure that those who are vulnerable can access services to keep them safe and secure. In this place we have all heard about the ACT government’s child development services and child and family centres. These services, throughout the year, undertake broader work to engage the voices of children.

One such example is the Gungahlin CFC Tiddas Aboriginal girls group. It has a cultural and wellbeing focus, with programs decided on by the girls participating. Children are offered the opportunity to provide real-time feedback through feedback forms for the kids and families school holiday program and through smiling face emoji activities. Feedback is also sought directly from children about their experience of the program and any suggestions they have for improvement. Broader community consultation days for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families are also held. The consultation days seek views and opinions about what has worked previously and what has been less successful or relevant to children.

The CFC’s approach to working with families is to strengthen the relationships between parents, caregivers and the children. This supports stronger communication, which in turn means that families’ capacity to advocate and have a strong understanding of their children’s needs is improved. Importantly, for every child who attends a CFC, the centre is a safe space. Children are treated with the utmost respect. Children are listed to and their contributions valued. Our CFCs are a place where children’s voices are listened to across the board.

The ACT government ensures that the voice of children and young people in out of home care are safe and are heard. The charter of rights for children and young people in out of home care clearly outlines for children who are not living with their birth parents what they are entitled to expect of their carers, the government and service providers. The charter is based on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the ACT Human Rights Act 2004 and the Children and Young People Act 2008. Examples of the rights include: the right to have contact with the people you care about and know about your family and cultural history; the right to go to school; and the right to talk to people about things you do not like or do not understand.

This year, the Community Services Directorate has been working on refreshing the design of this key document to ensure that it remains current and accessible to children and young people. It is crucial that the views of children and young people living in out of home care inform their case plans and the key decisions that affect their lives.

The viewpoint survey is critical in achieving this. Viewpoint is a national questionnaire administered by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare every two years. It aims to capture key aspects of children and young people’s experiences of out of home care and the extent to which the national standards for out of home care are embedded in practice. The ACT participates in data collection and offers the survey to children and young people as part of case management processes. In addition to informing the AIHW’s report, child and youth protection services uses the data to improve service delivery and monitor the level of satisfaction of children and young people with how their cases are managed.

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