Enhancing safety for Tasmanian children and young people

Sarah Courtney,Minister for Children and Youth

The Tasmanian Liberal Government recognises there is nothing more important than the safety and wellbeing of our children and young people.

Since 2014, the Government has taken strong action to improve the Child Safety System and improve outcomes for children, young people and families at risk.

The most important of these has been the implementation of our $51 million Child Safety Redesign – Strong Families, Safe Kids.

We are now seeing more support for families at risk than ever before, fewer cases referred for statutory child safety intervention and a decrease in the rate of children and young people entering out-of-home care.

In addition, our recently announced election commitments include $5 million to support new stable permanent family placements, $2.25 million to extend supports for Informal Kinship Carers and $2 million to provide priority access for children and young people to government services, supports and concessions.

Other important initiatives include:

*The introduction of the Advice and Referral Line (ARL), as the redesigned ‘front door’ to Tasmania’s family support, and child safety services.

*Introducing Intensive Family Engagement Services to help families on the brink of entering the statutory service system.

*Launching the Tasmanian Child and Youth Wellbeing Framework which promotes a shared understanding of child wellbeing.

*Providing over 40 additional positions to support the Child Safety Service including clinical practice consultants, support workers, training and liaison positions.

*In 2016 we established the Commissioner for Children and Young People Act giving independent statutory powers to the Commissioner including a systemic monitoring function specific to children in out-of-home care.

*In 2017 we established the Serious Event Review Team to examine serious incidents for children ‘known to child safety’.

*In 2018 we invested $24 million for the recruitment of 25 additional Child Safety officers and other frontline staff. This has brought our Child Safety Services establishment to over 250 full time equivalent staff.

*In 2018 we also established the Tasmanian Child Advocate to provide a greater voice to children in out-of-home care regarding the quality of their care, and the decisions made about them.

*In 2019 the Child Advocate established the Youth Change Makers – a consultative panel of young people with experience of out-of-home care, to provide their input on service system changes.

*In 2020 we introduced Aboriginal Liaison Officers into the Advice and Referral Line to facilitate increased participation of Tasmanian Aboriginal people in Child Safety decision-making.

Importantly, we have now developed a Strong Families, Safe Kids: Next Steps Action Plan 2021-23 which will continue the successful redesign work we have begun.

We are now turning our attention to the statutory Child Safety Service where we will improve how we engage with parents and families and build stronger oversight of our out-of-home care system.

A comprehensive review of the Children, Young Persons and their Families Act 1997 will also underpin many of our initiatives and will be completed over the next 12 months.

The Tasmanian Liberal Government is unwavering in its commitment to the safety and well-being of our children and young people.

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