Expert Panel report and recommendations

Sarah Courtney,Minister for Children and Youth

The Tasmanian Liberal Government’s number one priority is to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of our most vulnerable children and young people.

Today, I am releasing the advice and recommendations from the Expert Panel examining an improved system response for Tasmanian children and young people with highly complex needs.

In October 2020, the Department of Communities Tasmania undertook an Investigative Review into the safety and wellbeing of young people participating in the Many Colours 1 Direction (MC1D) Therapeutic Residential Placement Program.

The review recommended that the Department of Communities Tasmania progress work on a potential Tasmanian-based program, informed by an Expert Panel with specialist skills and experience in related fields.

I would like to thank the Expert Panel, chaired by the Commissioner for Children and Young People Leanne McLean, for its careful and detailed work.

This report represents a significant step forward in our commitment to establish programs for young people with exceptional needs here in Tasmania.

The Government has accepted in principle all recommendations made in the report, including transitioning away from the use of MC1D, which the panel acknowledges may take some time.

The Panel also acknowledges that MC1D has many strengths in education, healthy lifestyle, pro-social activities, engagement, individualised assessment, care arrangement and geographic barriers and that these should be incorporated in new programs.

The Panel’s recommendations are designed to complement the significant reforms underway in Tasmania and sit alongside the Strong Families Safe Kids Child Safety reforms and the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service reforms.

The recommendations also support our ongoing commitment to work closely with Aboriginal Communities to see better outcomes and more opportunities for Tasmanian Aboriginal children, young people and their families.

The Panel has identified three areas of focus for the immediate $500,000 funding made available by the Government including:

*Adopting a therapeutic model of family-based care;

*Procuring the delivery of new programs that incorporate positive elements of MC1D and other essential evidence based principles; and

*Establishing a cross-sectoral oversight group to monitor implementation of recommendations.

I received the report yesterday and will now progress discussions with my Cabinet colleagues regarding implementation of the recommendations.

I will also ask my Department to assess the report and recommendations to provide me with detailed advice, including on the next steps to develop local placement options in Tasmania.

The report can be found at https://communities.tas.gov.au/children/oohc/therapeutic-residential-placement-program

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