Member for Franklin
ADJOURNMENT – YOUTH AT RISK STRATEGY
23 August 2016 [6.13 p.m.]
Mrs PETRUSMA (Franklin – Minister for Human Services) – Madam Speaker, I rise this evening to provide an update on the important work being done by the Department of Health and Human Services with the development of a youth at risk strategy.
Sadly, many of the young people who end up engaged in our Youth Justice Services come from backgrounds of significant trauma and have experienced numerous system failures. That is why help, support and guidance for parents and extended families is also particularly important and must come from many parts of our community, whether from neighbours, schools, medical practitioners, community service providers, as well as from many government agencies.
In recognition of the need for collaborative as well as connected support, in April this year the Government announced the development of our $200,000 Youth at Risk Strategy to outline how future government services will be delivered to at risk young people. Not just those people interacting with the Youth Justice System, but also those young people who are struggling with homelessness, mental health, drug and alcohol issues or generally engaging in risk-taking behaviour.
A key component of this strategy is also the development of an options paper for custodial youth detention in Tasmania. The Youth at Risk Strategy will put greater emphasis on education, health and safety for all young people at risk, so as to support their development as important members of their own communities. Noetic Consultants have been engaging widely to understand the range of current positive interactions, interventions and challenges for at-risk youth and the differing perspectives of various stakeholder groups. Multiple consultation sessions have been held right across the state and this week further sessions are being held, including last night in Hobart. Noetic has also spoken to young people resident at Ashley and their families, as well as a range of young people from community groups across the state including the LGBTI community, the Aboriginal community and the Local Government Association advisory groups. Noetic have also held individual sessions with the Office of the Ombudsman, the Commissioner for Children and Young People, relevant unions, the TAC and key non-government organisations including Save the Children and Whitelion.
The Youth at Risk Strategy and the $20.6 million redesign of our child protection system also align with a number of reforms occurring across government such as Safe Families Tasmania, Joined Up Human Services, Tasmania’s Affordable Housing Strategy and the Youth Suicide Prevention Plan. In addition, the range of services currently provided across the state for young people at risk are being mapped in conjunction with TasCOSS and service gaps, as well as any duplications, are being identified. This work by TasCOSS is an essential body of work to ensure that services are well coordinated so that we can identify risk and intervene earlier. This will provide us with the best opportunity to prevent young people from entering the community or the custodial youth justice systems.
Lastly, I am delighted that so many [Bookmark: OLE_LINK1] Children and Youth Services staff have contributed so enthusiastically in this process. In particular I would like to place on the record my thanks to the senior managers of Children and Youth Services, including the director of Services to Young People, Karen Jabbour, who has provided strong, passionate leadership of this important project as well as the change management process at Ashley, Mark Mason, the project manager, who has spent many hours travelling around Tasmania gathering feedback from many people, and the staff at Ashley who have also shown their commitment to improving services at Ashley for young at-risk Tasmanians by strongly engaging in the consultation process. I am confident that under this strategy by the Government, the community, community sector organisations and families and young people all working collaboratively, that we will be able to make a big difference to the lives of young people in Tasmania.