Supporting all Canberra families to thrive

Across the child and family services system, the ACT Government is progressing ambitious and significant reforms to improve the wellbeing of children and their families.

The ACT Government is developing the next iteration of A Step Up for Our Kids – our Out of Home Care Strategy – building on the achievements of the past five years.

A Listening Report, released today, summarises consultation with stakeholders and highlights key themes and learnings from the Strategy.

Insights from the Listening Report and ongoing engagement with individuals and organisations will inform the next iteration of A Step Up for Our Kids.

Minister for Families and Community Services Rachel Stephen-Smith said ongoing engagement over the past five years has given the ACT Government valuable insights into the reform experience, what is working well and what can be further improved.

“As we embark on developing the next iteration of A Step Up for Our Kids, our first stage of engagement has focused on hearing from people with lived experience of the out of home care system and those who work with them,” Minister Stephen-Smith said.

“Children and young people have a right to be included in decisions that impact their lives, and we’ve heard in the Listening Report that children and young people want a stronger voice in decision-making.

“Carers are the backbone of the out of home care system and we have heard that we have more to do to ensure that their expertise in the lives of the children and young people in their care is always respected and their needs are appropriately supported.

“We also know we need to strengthen our efforts in community-led decision-making and service design, particularly working alongside the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community to reduce the over representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in the child protection system.

“The Our Booris, Our Way review has provided clear direction in this regard, and the work to implement its recommendations will continue alongside the development of the next iteration of A Step Up for Our Kids.”

The release of the Listening Report coincides with the launch of a new YourSay website that includes engagement opportunities, discussion papers and past strategies relating to child and family services.

“Across the entire child and family services landscape, we need to hear from and work collaboratively with those who have lived experience of the service system – children and young people, families, carers, community partners and advocacy groups,” Minister Stephen-Smith said.

“Providing information and sharing engagement opportunities in one centralised place will ensure individuals and organisations have more oversight and a better understanding of all the work happening across the child and family sector.

“This builds on the Children and Families Forum held in late March to bring ACT Government agencies and our community partners together to discuss our ambitious reform agenda.

“As a government and community, we have a shared responsibility to ensure every child leads a fulfilling life and grows up strong, safe and connected.

“We will continue to work with stakeholders, funded organisations and people with lived experience to inform policies and improve services that keep children and young people safe and supported.”

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