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05th October 2023 12:02
Victorian Legislative Council, Melbourne


Rachel PAYNE (South-Eastern Metropolitan) (12:02): (290) My question is for the newly appointed Minister for Children Minister Blandthorn. However, I have realised that she is not here, so I will direct my question to the Attorney-General. The Framework to Reduce Criminalisation of Young People in Residential Care was launched in February 2022, co-signed by the departments of health and human services and of justice and community safety and Victoria Police, to name a few. Its aim was to find an approach for dealing with non-crisis events in residential care with proportionality and flexibility when dealing with a young person’s behaviour. Many young people in residential care have experienced trauma through abuse and neglect. They can exhibit complex, challenging or offending behaviours, which often result in contact with the police and over-representation in the criminal justice system. The Yoorrook Justice Commission heard evidence that First Peoples children are being criminalised in residential care and the framework is not being implemented and recommended that the framework be applied in all cases, so my question is: what is the progress on the implementation of the Framework to Reduce Criminalisation of Young People in Residential Care?

Jaclyn SYMES (Northern Victoria – Attorney-General, Minister for Emergency Services) (12:04): I thank Ms Payne for her really good question and her interest in this matter. I am sure that Minister Blandthorn will be very happy to provide you with a comprehensive response, if not a briefing. It is something that is a high priority to her, and she has conversations with justice ministers regularly in relation to these issues. It remains a high priority that we are all very focused on.

Rachel PAYNE (South-Eastern Metropolitan) (12:04): I thank the Attorney for passing on my question. By way of supplementary, can the minister commit to a time line in which we will see no more children in care being criminalised for behaviour that would not see them criminalised in an ordinary home environment?

Jaclyn SYMES (Northern Victoria – Attorney-General, Minister for Emergency Services) (12:04): A worthy aspiration indeed, and I am sure Minister Blandthorn will be happy to respond to your supplementary. I should have said at the outset that Minister Blandthorn is at her MinCo at the moment in Hobart, so she is having conversations such as this with her state and federal counterparts.

[ANSWER PENDING]

Written Answer
Received: 5 October 2023
Hon. Lizzie Blandthorn
(Minister for Children, Minister for Disability)

I am advised as follows:

The Department of Families, Fairness and Housing has continued to support implementation of the Framework to reduce criminalisation of young people in residential care (2020) (Framework), a shared commitment between the Department of Justice and Community Safety, Victoria Police, the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency, and the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare to reduce young people’s contact with police.

The Framework sets out the individual and collective responsibilities of signatories to reduce the criminalisation of young people in residential care. This has been supported by the 2023-24 Victorian Budget investment of $548.4 million over four

years to deliver improved outcomes for children in residential care. Key initiatives will deliver:

  • access to therapeutic supports for all children in residential care by 2025-26
  • ongoing funding for 25 two and three-bed therapeutic residential care homes
  • ongoing funding for targeted care packages, which support children to live in suitable care arrangements and prevent entry into residential care
  • additional supports to prevent and address child sexual exploitation, including expanding the department’s Sexual Exploitation Practice Leads across the state.

The Framework is being implementing through an 18-month action plan, which commenced in March 2023. The action plan outlines priority activities that will help to deliver the objectives of the Framework.

Overall implementation will be overseen by the Statewide Implementation Group that includes all the signatories to the Framework and key partners, such as Commission for Children and Young People, Victoria Legal Aid and the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Services. This will be supported by a new reporting template to collect statewide data on police contact within residential care homes. This new reporting template was rolled out across all residential care providers in September 2023.

The Framework and its impacts will be evaluated at the completion of the 18-month action plan period.

[ENDS]



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