Minister for Human Services
Out-of-Home Care
04 June, 2015


 Mr BARNETT question to MINISTER for HUMAN SERVICES, Mrs PETRUSMA

[11.02 a.m.]

Can the minister explain how the current reform of the out-of-home care system will improve outcomes for children and young people in the care of the state?

 ANSWER

Madam Speaker, reform of Tasmania’s out-of-home care system is long overdue.  We all know that the ideal place for a child or young person to be raised is within their family of origin or the extended family.  However, at times it may not be possible for a family to adequately meet their child’s needs.  If extended family or friends are unable to assist then the state has the statutory responsibility of ensuring the safety of the child or young person.  This may involve placing the child or young person with other family members or in an out-of-care service, usually foster, kinship or residential care.

The current reform process is about filling in the gaps identified in past reviews and reports and delivering stronger outcomes for the 1 048 Tasmanian children and young people currently in out-of-home care.  This reform, along with a range of initiatives across children and youth services, will ensure that our out-of-home care system is evidenced-based, has the capacity to meet the needs of children and ultimately improves outcomes for children, young people and their families.

External probity advisers have guided the department through the independent process which was undertaken at arm’s length from my office.  Following careful assessment and consideration of proposals received, three organisations have been engaged to deliver three out-of-home care services – sibling group care, residential care and therapeutic services.  One of the successful providers is Australian Childhood Foundation for delivery of therapeutic services.  Australian Childhood Foundation, or ACF, has a strong history of providing trauma-based therapeutic services for children in care in Tasmania and nationally.  Under their new contract, ACF will provide direct therapeutic interventions to children and young people in care, as well as training for carers and child protection staff to increase awareness and understanding of the impact of trauma and build the capacity to implement a therapeutic environment for children.

Key Assets will now have delivery of sibling group care.  Key Assets is a leading children’s services provider with almost 20 years experience in supporting foster carers, children and young people in care, including care services for children and young people with complex needs.  They have a strong commitment to providing quality care for children and will deliver placement services for groups of connected children who cannot be placed together in traditional family-based placements such as foster care.

Centacare Tasmania will be delivering residential care.  Centacare Tasmania, which will soon become CatholicCare, currently offers a broad range of specialised services to individuals and families throughout Tasmania including a variety of services to children in care.  They will provide residential care services for these older children who have challenging behaviours or high support needs that cannot be addressed in a less intensive environment.

For the first time from the commencement of the new funding agreements in July 2015, placement and therapeutic services will now be purposely matched to the specific assessed needs of each child.  In this way we increase placement stability and improve outcomes for children in care.

I recognise the work of previous service providers who have been unsuccessful in the new tender process, as these organisations have been active participants in the ongoing reform of out-of-home care in Tasmania and I thank them for their commitment to improving outcomes for children and young people in care.  I now look forward to working with all stakeholders to put these reforms in place and to develop a child protection system that is strong, effective and focused on the needs of children.

The reform of out-of-home care is being done in a phased approach.  Phase 1 is now finalised and phase 2 will focus on family-based care, and foster reform and kinship care.  A further tender process for the provision of specific response care packages for children with extreme needs who required individually tailored care packages was released on 23 May 2015.