ACT Council of Social Service Inc.

Justice | Equity | Social Inclusion | Reconciliation

Media release: Comments on care

19 December 2013

Joint media release with Youth Coalition of the ACT, Families ACT, and CREATE Foundation.

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) has welcomed the chance to provide comment on the Out of Home Care Strategy Discussion Paper, released by the ACT Government on 14 November 2013.

“We are pleased to see this focus on these important issues that affect some of the ACT’s most vulnerable children, young people and families,” said Susan Helyar, Director, ACTCOSS. “We believe it is vital that the new Strategy is informed by those with lived experience of the out of home care system, and the services who support them.”

Emma Robertson, Director of the Youth Coalition who developed a joint submission with Families ACT and CREATE Foundation, said there was a need to focus on early intervention in order to more effectively prevent entry, and reduce re-entry, into the care and protection system.

“There are underlying causes of social disadvantage and vulnerability in families – poverty, disengagement from school, family violence, intergenerational trauma – that leads to their involvement in the child protection system, and these need to be addressed in the Strategy,” Ms Robertson said.

Ms Helyar agreed, noting, “The supply and quality of out of home care placements cannot be addressed without reducing the need for these placements. A comprehensive Strategy should incorporate priorities and actions across the full spectrum of need, including early intervention, prevention and post-vention.”

Both ACTCOSS and the Youth Coalition, Families ACT and CREATE Foundation also noted in their submissions a need to work closely with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander service providers and communities to reduce the over-representation of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children, young people and families involved in the ACT care and protection system.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities need to be actively involved at each stage of decision-making in relation to the out of home care system, including assessment, intervention, placement and on-going care,” Will Mollison, Executive Officer of Families ACT, said.

The Discussion Paper highlights a commitment by Care and Protection to empower children and young people to be involved in decisions about their lives, a focus welcomed by the community sector.

“It is so important to talk to the people who have been through the system – we lived that life, we are the experts. It’s great to have our say, and it’s important to have both sides of the experience (those that are in care and those that have transitioned out of care) involved in the feedback,” said Dylan Wallace, a CREATE Foundation Young Consultant.

For more information or comment please contact
Susan Helyar, Director, on 0448 791 987 or 02 6202 7200.