NATIONAL CHILD PROTECTION WEEK AND FOSTER AND KINSHIP CARER WEEK

The Hon. R. SANDERSON (Adelaide—Minister for Child Protection) (15:39): September is a very busy and exciting month in the child protection space, with a variety of activities to recognise National Child Protection Week, from 1 to 7 September, and Foster and Kinship Carer Week, from 8 to 14 September. Child protection is extremely important work. It is complex, challenging and sometimes heartbreaking but equally rewarding. 

Firstly, I would like to give my sincere thanks to all foster and kinship carers who open up their hearts and homes to provide our children with a safe and supported environment to improve outcomes in their life. Thank you to all government departments, staff and volunteers who tirelessly strive to provide the best outcomes for our children and young people, whether that is through advocacy, service or program delivery. 

As the first dedicated Minister for Child Protection, I am pleased at our achievements since coming into government in March 2018, and I look forward to continuing to improve our whole-of-government approach, alongside our incredibly hardworking carers, staff and volunteers. 

Child Protection Week is recognised in the first week of September and is an initiative coordinated by the National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN), which is celebrating its 31st anniversary. The aim of the week is to raise awareness in the community about the work being done by our foster and kinship carers, by the non-government agencies and by the many government agencies that are involved in protecting our children and young people. The 2021 theme is: 

Every child, in every community, needs a fair go. To treat all of Australia's children fairly, we need to make sure every family and community has what kids need to thrive and be healthy. 

That is exactly why the Marshall Liberal government has a whole-of-government approach to child protection. We are heavily investing in intensive family support services through the Department of Human Services, along with our family group conferencing pilot program, which has now been established as an ongoing program and further expanded to include unborn childcare concerns and an Aboriginal focus program. 

We have also recently announced an expansion of our panel of reunification services, along with the Newpin reunification service being funded through a social impact bond. Newpin is a centre-based service that teaches parents how to parent safely with the aim that children can be safely reunified. This program has had great success in the Eastern States. 

Children who cannot be safely returned home with their parents also need a fair go and that is why we are investing in the Sanctuary therapeutic residential care model throughout our DCP homes. We have closed several of the large bed facilities, the large units, that existed under the former Labor government and we have capped others, along with introducing our MyPlace initiative that allows children and young people to be part of decorating their homes and bedrooms to give it a more homelike feel. 

Tomorrow, the Premier, Steven Marshall, will be launching our state's first ever South Australian Child Protection Awards. As minister, I am extremely proud of the excellent work that occurs every day to make a difference to the lives of our children and young people. I have read through all the finalists and their categories, and I am thrilled to be recognising their contributions to our sector. 

This event recognises the valuable contributions of our DCP workers and partners, who provide vital support for at-risk families, children and young people in care, including NGOs, our philanthropic partners, foster and kinship carers, government staff, journalists, young people with care experience and volunteers. The Premier and I look forward to recognising and honouring the individuals and organisations that are going above and beyond to support children and young people in care. 

For anyone interested in working in the sector, the department has a continual recruitment drive for residential care workers. Simply go to iworkfor.sa.gov.au for further information. For anyone who has ever considered becoming a foster carer, what better time than now? I encourage those who are interested in becoming a foster carer to go to the website and take the quiz at www.fostercare.sa.gov.au or call 1300 2 FOSTER for more information. There is no greater gift you could give a child or young person than to provide a loving home and a stable environment that will enable them to thrive.