The ACT Government, through the 2021-22 ACT Budget, will provide $7 million over four years for the Safe and Connected Youth: Coordinated Service Response Program. This Program will support children and young people aged 8-15 at risk of homelessness, and their families, with a suite of services including family support, mediation and outreach. It will also respond to the critical gap in accommodation services for children and young people in this age group, by establishing a therapeutic respite accommodation service.
We cannot underestimate how much better off children and young people will be as a result of this funding. Between 8 to 15 years is a time of remarkable opportunity and growth. Through intervening early, we can ensure every young person has the support they need to thrive in our Canberra community.
As most of you are aware, the support and accommodation gap for children under the age of 16 in the ACT has been raised as an ongoing concern by the sector for nearly 20 years. This funding will fill this gap, by providing a coordinated service response for children at risk of or experiencing homelessness, or engaging with child protection or youth justice.
First and foremost, we need to thank all of the Canberra community, specifically the organisations and advocates who have been lobbying tirelessly for over 20 years.
Thank you to the Rotary Club of Canberra for their advocacy and financial contributions to the program, as well as the ongoing work of Conflict Resolution Service, Woden Community Service, Northside Community Service and Marymead.
The Minister for Children and Families, Rachel Stephen-Smith, and Minister for Young People, Yvette Berry, have been instrumental in supporting this initiative. We also extend our thanks to Chief Minister and Treasurer Andrew Barr.
We thank current and former Members of the Legislative Assembly who advocated for and supported this project, including Rebecca Vassarotti, Shane Rattenbury, Emma Davidson, Mick Gentleman, Suzanne Orr, Michael Pettersson, Caroline Le Couteur, Elizabeth Kikkert, Elizabeth Lee, Nicole Lawder, Tara Cheyne, Johnathan Davis, Chris Steel, and other MLAs who took the time to meet, listen and support the project. Your support shows your commitment to see positive change in the lives of Canberrans. It’s amazing to see such an incredible commitment from the ACT Government to preventing youth homelessness!
This project has been a fantastic example of collaboration with ACT Government. There have been key public servants within CSD and ACT Housing who have worked tirelessly to progress this issue. It truly would not happen without their work – which will continue to ensure this project is implemented and delivered successfully.
Through the 2021-22 ACT Budget, $7 million will be provided over four years for the Safe and Connected Youth: Coordinated Service Response Program including:
- $4.1 million for the operational costs of therapeutic respite accommodation
- $2.6 million for early preservation outreach services including mediation and casework
- $157,000 for post-exit outreach services
- $185,000 for establishing the program
This builds on $1.2 million provided through the 2020-21 Fast-Track program for the refurbishment of a Housing ACT property to provide therapeutic respite accommodation for young people involved in the program.