Page 1733 - Week 06 - Thursday, 30 July 2020

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that review. That is the first review of its kind to be absolutely and wholly led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. I commend the members of the steering committee and the team that supported them in the directorate.

In the first half of this financial year Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children represented 11 per cent of those entering care. That is still a massive over-representation but compares with 13 per cent in the period in 2018-19, 35 per cent in the same period in 2017-18 and 32 per cent in 2016-17. In terms of numbers, we are talking about six Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people entering care in the first half of 2019-20 and seven in 2018-19 compared to 29 and 35 in the two previous equivalent years.

We are seeing change in the system. Is it enough? No, it is not. That is why we are continuing to invest in programs like family group conferencing and functional family therapy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. I welcomed the Liberals’ announcement the other day and the government is open to expanding access to family group conferencing. I note, however, that it is simply not possible in some cases, where a child is at immediate risk, to offer family group conferencing prior to taking emergency action or going to court.

The other investment I want to acknowledge and touch on briefly in relation to A step up for our kids—people have spoken about advocacy and people having a voice—is the establishment of the Birth Family Advocacy Service, which has since been expanded. I commend Red Cross for the incredible job they do in supporting birth families in the system. That is now an incredibly important part of our system.

We have also established a duty lawyer at the Childrens Court, recognising that when emergency action is taken and matters go to court quickly there is an opportunity for people to be represented. The CREATE Foundation provides systemic advocacy for young people in the system and Carers ACT provide advocacy for carers in a system.

A lot of the messages that have come through this inquiry and its report have been heard, are being heard and are being acted on. As to the very specific recommendations in relation to changes to the Children and Young People Act and how we can continue to improve, continue our path of building a more restorative and more therapeutic child and youth protection system, I absolutely welcome both the evidence the committee heard and its thorough work in examining that evidence and making recommendations. Again, I give my commitment that, if I am in a position to do so, I will certainly respond to those recommendations in the next term of government.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Sitting suspended from 12.18 to 2.00 pm.

Ministerial arrangements

MR BARR: The Deputy Chief Minister and Attorney-General are absent from the Assembly today. I will take questions in their portfolios.

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