The 2019-20 ACT Budget strengthens our investment in social services to see Canberra continue becoming even more inclusive.
Better services for older Canberrans
We recognise that as our city grows and our population ages, we need to strengthen our investment in better, more accessible services for older Canberrans. That’s why we are enhancing the provision of Seniors Cards and boosting the annual Seniors Week program through this year’s Budget.
Improving frontline services through the Safer Families Levy
We are committed to tackling domestic and family violence in partnership with the community, which is why we introduced the Safer Families Levy in 2016.
As the initial four-year initiatives funded through the levy reach completion, we are updating our approach to continue the focus on frontline services while providing funding for new initiatives to further innovate and improve our response to domestic and family violence.
New initiatives to be funded in 2019 will focus on delivering family-centred responses for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families impacted by family violence; reducing the risk of deaths from family violence; supporting pregnant women at risk of domestic and family violence; extending the Room4Change program to help prevent family violence; and training ACT Government frontline workers to respond to family violence.
Supporting people with disability
The ACT has led the country in delivering the National Disability Insurance Scheme, and we will continue to invest in support for Canberrans with disability as states and territories move to the full scheme arrangements from 1 July 2019. About 6,800 Canberrans are now accessing individual packages of services and supports through the scheme, and we are committed to doing our part to ensure the NDIS is fully funded to deliver better outcomes for participants.
At the same time as we are growing the ACT’s contribution to the NDIS, we will maintain existing disability services that are not eligible as in-kind contributions under the scheme. This will ensure these services remain free and accessible for Canberrans with disability who are not currently receiving an individual support package through the NDIS.
This will include continuing to invest in the Children and Young People’s Equipment Loan Scheme, the Child Development Service, the ACT Taxi Subsidy Scheme, the Integrated Service Response Program and Rehabilitation, Aged and Community Care supports.
Stepping up for our kids
Through this year’s Budget we are boosting our investment in the continuum of care under the out of home care strategy A Step up for Our Kids, supporting children and young people who cannot live safely at home. We will continue to work collaboratively with foster and kinship carers and our service partners to embed a therapeutic, trauma-informed model of care for our most vulnerable children and young people.
We will also continue implementing recommendations of the Our Booris, Our Way Review to address the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out of home care. This will include more training and workforce development to increase the cultural proficiency of staff as well as implementing the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principles.
Therapeutic Care Children’s Court
We want to deliver the best outcomes possible for children if they are involved in legal matters. So through this year’s Budget we will establish a Therapeutic Care Court for care and protection matters in the Children’s Court.
This will provide for court-led interventions for parents whose children have been removed from their care or are at risk of being removed from their care. The Therapeutic Care Court will seek to deliver the best outcomes for our children and their families by addressing parental substance abuse issues, parenting capacity issues, family violence and mental health issues.
We will also support this investment by bolstering Legal Aid ACT to provide a new full time duty solicitor service in the Children’s Court. This will provide extended services for parents, grandparents and guardians who are involved in care and protection proceedings.
Importantly, these measures will help reduce the risk of children and young people entering or remaining in the criminal justice system and support their families to remain connected and together where it is safe for them to do so.
Supporting children and young people at risk
We will continue working to reduce young people’s contact with the youth justice system and provide early support and programs that reduce the likelihood of offending later in life. We will also increase our investment in the safety and security of young people and staff at Bimberi Youth Justice Centre by upgrading CCTV throughout the centre.
The ACT Government is committed to reducing the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our justice system. As part of this commitment, we will invest further in the Warrumbul Court to support its handling of more cases involving children and young people. The Warrumbul Court provides culturally-appropriate sentencing options, helping to reconnect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Canberrans with their culture and avoid ongoing contact with the justice system.
Through the 2019-20 ACT Budget we are making big investments in early intervention and specialist services to help see Canberra become even more inclusive in the years to come.