Homeless Young People QWN

The Hon. JAN BARHAM: My question without notice is addressed to the Minister for Finance and Services, and Minister for the Illawarra, representing the Minister for Family and Community Services. How many young people in New South Wales who are identified as homeless have been in care and how many of those received a leaving care plan?

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: I thank the Hon. Jan Barham for her question and interest in this important area. I know that she has done a considerable amount of work in relation to these issues and I have taken particular note of her questions in order to answer them appropriately. The New South Wales Government acknowledges the complex challenges and barriers that young people face in accessing and sustaining appropriate accommodation. In 2010-11 the Commonwealth Government and the New South Wales Community Services jointly contributed $134 million to fund approximately 350 Specialist Homelessness Services to provide accommodation and support to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Approximately 39 per cent of the Specialist Homelessness Services in New South Wales are targeted at young people. This equates to approximately 138 youth-focused Specialist Homelessness Services in 2010-11, with funding of approximately $48.3 million.

In relation to the honourable member’s question, I am advised that supported accommodation services currently do not record whether or not clients have been in out-of-home care when they request accommodation and other homelessness services. The Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 provides for assistance for young people who are transitioning from out-of-home care to independent living. Assistance can include help to find accommodation, to undertake education and training or to access income support and healthcare. It also may include referrals to counselling services. Transitioning to independence is a key priority area under the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children, and New South Wales is working closely with the Commonwealth to improve outcomes for young care leavers.

New South Wales is contributing to the planning of a nationally consistent approach to leaving care and a review of the Transition to Independent Living Allowance. Community Services has implemented a case planning framework and electronic templates for case planning and review that will support consistent case planning, including on leaving care. Objectives addressed in the eight measures of wellbeing in the case plan template focus on supporting the young person’s successful transition to independent living. A key priority of the New South Wales Homelessness Action Plan is a “no exits into homelessness” policy to ensure that young people leaving out-of-home care have access to long-term supported housing. Community Services is working with non-government organisations to implement the Homelessness Action Plan. It leads 32 projects targeting specific client groups. This includes assisting Aboriginal young people leaving out-of-home care to successfully transition to independent living, preventing their homelessness.

 

Catfish Documentary

Catfish Documentary

Catfish is a 2010 American documentary involving a young man being filmed by his brother and friend as he builds a romantic relationship with a young woman on the social networking website Facebook and then what happens !!!!!!!
As someone who isn’t on Facebook but is interested in how it’s changing the way we communicate and interact and what can happen both positive and negative, this film is fascinating. I was surprised it’s a documentary, it’s so revealing and unexpected.

Younger people in residential aged care program QoN

Question

14th June 2011

YOUNGER PEOPLE IN RESIDENTIAL AGED CARE PROGRAM
The Hon. JAN BARHAM: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for Disability Services. With the funding stream for the Younger People in Residential Aged Care Program due to expire in July this year, what arrangements have been made with the Commonwealth Government to ensure the improvement and continuation of this program? Will the Minister maintain or increase the jointly funded $81.2 million commitment of the first five years of the program during the continuation of the program?

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: I thank the member for another timely question. I will refer it to the Minister and provide her with an answer in due course.

Answer

2nd August 2011

YOUNGER PEOPLE IN RESIDENTIAL AGED CARE PROGRAM

On 14 June 2011 the Hon. Jan Barham asked the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for Disability Services, a question without notice regarding younger people in residential aged care program. The Minister for Disability Services provided the following response:

The NSW Government is committed to supporting younger people with a disability in, or at risk of entering residential aged care and delivery against the performance benchmark under the National Disability Agreement.

NSW has jointly funded the YPIRAC Program with the Australian Government. The NSW and Australian Governments have each provided a total of $40.6 million over the last five years. Funding of over $25.3 million per annum ($12.6 million from each Government) has now been rolled into the National Disability Agreement funding base and will continue to be used to support younger people with a disability in, or at risk of entering residential aged care.

In April 2011, Disability Services Ministers discussed the future of the YPIRAC Program and agreed that the setting of any new program targets requires joint commitment to additional funding. The Australian Government has not agreed to any additional commitment at this time.

However, we also agreed that good outcomes for this target group cannot be delivered solely by specialist disability services. Disability Officials have been charged with developing an Action Plan that identifies future policy directions to achieve better pathways for younger people in residential aged care in conjunction with other mainstream service systems.

I am committed to working with State and Territory Disability Ministers and the Australian Government and engaging with other portfolio ministers to achieve better outcomes for this group of people.

 

 

 

 

 

Armidale Public Housing QWN

Question

16th June 2011

ARMIDALE PUBLIC HOUSING
The Hon. JAN BARHAM: My question is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for Family and Community Services. Will the Minister confirm whether Housing NSW has more than 100 empty houses in Armidale? If so, what is planned for those houses? Will the Minister also confirm whether Housing NSW has built more than 100 new one- and two-bedroom units in Armidale?

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: In the interests of everyone, I will take that question on notice.

Answer

2nd August 2011

ARMIDALE PUBLIC HOUSING

 

On 16 June 2011 the Hon. Jan Barham asked the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for Family and Community Services, a question without notice regarding Armidale public housing. The Minister for Finance and Services provided the following response:

There are currently 27 vacant public housing properties in Armidale. Of these, 10 are currently undergoing maintenance for re-letting to applicants on the Housing Register. Seventeen are currently undergoing refurbishment and will be leased to Homes North Community Housing who will let these properties as affordable housing to households on low to moderate incomes.

Housing NSW advises that it has delivered around 130 new social housing homes in Armidale under the Nation Building Economic Stimulus Plan. It is my understanding that the new stock comprises mostly one and two bedroom units, with a number of these being adaptable to suit the needs of people with disabilities or mobility problems.

Disability Access QWN

Question

17th June 2011

DISABILITY ACCESS

 
The Hon. JAN BARHAM: I direct my question to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for Planning and Infrastructure. The Disability (Access to Premises—Buildings) Standards and accompanying changes to the Building Code of Australia commenced on 1 May 2011, giving greater emphasis to universal design principles. To support these reforms, an Access Advisory Committee has been established to assess applications for exemptions from the standards, based on unjustifiable hardship. Will the Minister advise whether any Commonwealth or New South Wales disability advocacy organisations have representation on that committee? If not, why not? Will the Minister advise how many applications for exemptions from the standards have been sought from the Access Advisory Committee and whether the exemption process will be mandatory?

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: I thank the Hon. Jan Barham for her very interesting question. I will be interested to obtain an answer from the Minister and provide it as soon as possible. 

Answer

2nd August 2011

DISABILITY ACCESS

On 17 June 2011 the Hon. Jan Barham asked the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for Planning and Infrastructure, a question without notice regarding disability access. The Minister for Planning and Infrastructure provided the following response:

• The Access Advisory Committee under the NSW Building Professionals Board has been established in accordance with the recommendations of the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Australian Building Codes Board.

• Experts in a range of fields were sought to assist in the Committee’s functions, including the fields of disability access, building code compliance, quantity surveying and heritage conservation.

• These experts have associations with a range of professional bodies including the NSW Network of Access Consultants, the Australian Institute of Quantity Surveyors, Australian Institute of Building Surveyors, and the Heritage Council.

• Whilst the Committee contains significant expertise in disability access matters it does not comprise persons advocating positions on behalf of disability organisations as the task of the Committee is to provide assessments against the technical standards contained in the Disability Standards and the Building Code of Australia.

• As at 21 June 2011 no applications have been received for consideration by the Committee.

• Initially, referral of matters involving unjustifiable hardship will be voluntary. Should proposed changes be made to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000, referral of all matters involving unjustifiable hardship to the Committee will be mandatory.

 

Boarding House Accomodation QoN

Question:

21st June 2011

BOARDING HOUSE ACCOMMODATION
The Hon. JAN BARHAM: My question is directed to the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for Ageing and Disability Services. Will the Minister clarify the position of the Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care in respect of its duty of care to residents of licensed boarding houses given its role as licensor and regulator? How many departmental employees monitor licensed boarding houses and how many visits do they or official community visitors make to each boarding house each week? Is the Minister satisfied with the current level and quality of monitoring exercised by the department in respect of licensed boarding houses regulated under the Youth and Community Services Act?

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: I thank the member for her very detailed question. We have several procedures for dealing with questions in the House. A question asking for that level of detail should be placed on notice, so I will take it on notice.

The Hon. Lynda Voltz: Point of order: The Minister is obviously debating the question, which he is not entitled to do. I invite you to direct him accordingly.

The PRESIDENT: Order! Has the Minister concluded his answer?

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: No, I was going to make a couple of supplementary comments.

The PRESIDENT: Order! The Minister will answer the member’s question, not debate it.

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: I have taken the detail of the question on notice, but I was hoping for a question from the Hon. Cate Faehrmann because last week we were all a bit mystified when she did not get back from Tasmania. It was only later in the week that we heard that the Tasmanian Government had introduced its budget. Included in that budget was its wages policy.

The Hon. Luke Foley: Point of order: My point of order relates to relevance. The Minister is abusing the processes of the House by straying on to territory that has nothing to do with the question the member asked.

The Hon. GREG PEARCE: To the point of order: It is a bit rich for the Leader of the Opposition to be talking about abusing the processes of the House—

The PRESIDENT: Order! The Minister will resume his seat. Question time is an opportunity for members to seek information. The Hon. Jan Barham asked a question; the Minister referred it to another Minister. It is not the time for the Minister to answer a question that he thinks another member might ask.

 

Answer:

2nd August 2011

BOARDING HOUSE ACCOMMODATION

On 21 June 2011 the Hon. Jan Barham asked the Minister for Finance and Services, representing the Minister for Ageing, and Minister for Disability Services, a question without notice regarding boarding house accommodation. The Minister for Ageing, and Minister for Disability Services provided the following response:

1. Under the Youth and Community Services Act 1973 (YACS Act) and Youth and Community Services Regulation 2010 (YACS Regulation), Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC) has an obligation to licence and regulate boarding houses that accommodate two or more people with a disability who require supervision and social habilitation.

Official Community Visitors and ADHC officers regularly visit licensed boarding houses. In particular, ADHC officers regularly monitor licensed premises and work with proprietors to meet the standards required by the Conditions of Licence and the YACS Regulation.

Where a boarding house proprietor does not comply with the conditions of license and the legislation in a way that represents a risk to the safety, welfare and wellbeing of people with a disability, ADHC will not hesitate to take action under the YACS Act. This can include a prosecution or revocation of the licence.

2 & 3. ADHC has 10 Regional Licensing Officers as part of the Boarding House Reform Program who monitor licensed boarding houses through unannounced inspection visits on a six to eight weekly basis.

Additionally, Licensing Officers conduct comprehensive Full Service Reviews of each premises every three years.

Official Community Visitors visit licensed boarding houses approximately once every eight weeks.

4. I am satisfied with the current level and quality of monitoring exercised by ADHC in respect of licensed boarding houses. ADHC takes seriously and fulfils its role in monitoring licensed boarding houses to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of residents.

 

 

Young Farmers Association

It was a pleasure to meet with representatives of the Young Farmers Association.  The group raised issues about the future of farming in NSW and discussed concerns about coal seam gas, corporate buy up of farms and the loss of community.  The meeting also provided an opportunity to discuss areas of interest including the food security, the growth of the organic agriculture sector and the management of  biodiversity.  I informed them about the success on the far north coast of biodiversity and farming land management practices, community support for farmers markets and my experience of being on the Ministerial Advisory Council for Organic Agriculture.

Supporting Young People Leaving Care

CREATE Foundation, an advocacy organisation for children who are in state care or have been in state care, recently released a report into the outcomes for young people leaving out-of-home-care or foster care in New South Wales.

In the first year after leaving care, CREATE has found that when children who have been in the care of the Minister turn 18, these young people are less likely than those in other states to have a Leaving Care Plan and up to one third may become homeless after leaving care.

Care leavers are more likely to be unemployed than others in this age group and are also more likely to spend time in prison. Barnardos have found that one in seven young people leaving care are either pregnant or already mothers.

Leaving Care Plans should be available to all of these vulnerable young people so that they can make a start on developing the life skills they will need to look after themselves in the adult world. This should include an introduction to training, further education or employment.

All young people who turn 18, have had a care order and been in the care of the Department of Family and Community Services or a non government care agency such as Barnardos or UnitingCare Burnside, should be offered substantial assistance to prepare for transition to adult life.

Ideally, preparation begins at age 15 when living skills such as cooking, budgeting and making job applications are practised with the help of case workers and carers. By the age of 17, carers and case workers need to be helping young people to prepare a “leaving care plan” which stays in place until age 25. Young people with a disability need to begin planning a little earlier and can seek assistance from Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC) who can follow through with care plans.

Care Plans are an entitlement and young people have a legal right to have them so why is it that so few seem to be in place? I have asked the Minister for Family and Community Services and the Minister for Finance and Services to provide me with information on what percentage of children in the care of the Minister have leaving care plans. Both Ministers have refused to provide details on the number of children and young people in care with leaving care plans. I would have thought transparency in fulfilment of statutory rights was the order of the day for this new government.

Most care leavers are also entitled to a one-off payment called Transition to Independent Living Allowance (TILA) but many young people do not seem to be aware of this. I congratulate the Department of Family and Community Services for their document entitled “Information for Young People leaving Care – Your Next Step”. It provides comprehensive information for this group of young people.

Planning for Leaving Care ideally should begin when kids in care are 14 or 15, and as recommended in the document just mentioned, they need to make sure they are aware of personal hygiene, know how to cook a simple meal, use a washing machine and dryer, can use an ATM and manage a simple budget. They also need to know how to get help in an emergency, be able to list some birth control options and explain the risks of drugs, alcohol and unsafe sex. This knowledge is of course important to all teenagers.

At around age 17 it is necessary for young people to begin to acquire further skills such as knowing how to budget for ongoing costs as well as unexpected emergencies that might arise; knowing how to arrange accommodation and how to sign a rental agreement. Having a tax file number, a resume and learning how to apply for a job and knowing how to enrol to vote are also important skills to acquire. All this information and suggestions are contained in the FACS document – Your Next Step – Information for Young People Leaving Care.

 However, this great information often does not seem to translate into action for this vulnerable group.  It would appear that many do not receive the information or assistance to access it and act on it. I understand that the work required for case workers to go through this process is detailed and time-consuming, and high case loads mean that the time is not always available to get all this information to the young people who would greatly benefit from it.

In developing a Leaving Care Plan, a 17-year-old would probably benefit from the help of an independent party in what is essentially a contract negotiation with a government department.

An example of this would be Barnardo’s leaving care services that aim to bridge the gap for children in care between leaving care and living in the adult world. Barnardos will help young people to develop the life skills they will need to look after themselves, including those listed in the FACS document mentioned as well as encouraging them to undertake employment, training or further education.

When they leave care, Barnardo’s helps the young people secure permanent accommodation and remains available to offer support and counselling if necessary. If this essential system is in place but actually not being delivered effectively to young people, then possibly enforcement mechanisms need to be in place.

Petition for essential Leaving Care Plans for Young People

Create Foundation have released a report that over 60% of children in the care of the Minister or in out of home care do not have leaving care plans. A recent SMH article highlighted the challenges faced by young people leaving care.

In the first year after leaving care, CREATE has found that when young people turn 18, in NSW, they are less likely than those in other states to have a Leaving Care Plan, and up to one third may become homeless after leaving care. 

Care leavers are more likely to be unemployed than others in this age group and are also more likely to spend time in prison. Barnardos have found that one in seven young people leaving care are either pregnant or already mothers.

Leaving Care Plans should be available to all of these vulnerable young people so that they can make a start on developing the life skills they will need to look after themselves in the adult world. This should include an introduction to training, further education or employment.

Add your voice to those calling for proper support of young people leaving care. Download a petition here.

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