Foster carers (20.9.2018)
Written on the 20 September 2018
GEORGIE CROZIER (LIB - Southern Metropolitan)
My adjournment matter at this late hour is also to the Minister for Families and Children, and it relates to the very real issues that so many of our dedicated foster carers are dealing with each and every day and have done so over the past four years.
Last week during the foster carer celebrations, and in particular the ones that were held in Queen's Hall, there were so many dedicated foster carers who really showed their dedication and spoke to so many of us that were in attendance, including the minister and Ms Springle, who was also there. I just want to recount some of those issues that were raised because this is what is real and this is what is affecting these very dedicated people.
There was a carer who had a 17-year-old girl with profound disabilities who was worried about how she is going to cope when the girl turns 18 and she loses support. She called on the government to extend care, funding and support to 21 years. Then there was Debbie, who has three children in her care, who asked for respite carers who are professionally trained in trauma care so she can take a much-needed break with confidence, knowing her children will be well looked after. She also said that extending care to 21 must be a top priority. We then heard from Bev, who said she lost a place in four-year-old kindergarten for her foster child while the bureaucracy deliberated for more than six weeks over payments for an additional day of funding. The claim for a second day of funding was eventually denied. This family funded the second day from their own pocket to give their foster child much-needed education.
Another story was told by Kerryn, who spoke with passion and anger. She said she was feeling powerless and undervalued. She said that her input is not valued and her opinion is not sought on the decisions for the six-year-old foster child in her care. Her child is experiencing major speech developmental delays, and she was initially told that a speech therapist would not be funded as it is an intervention. Kerryn, fearing the child would be relentlessly bullied at school, paid for speech therapy for her foster child at a cost of $180 per week out of her pocket. Eventually, some months later, the department came back and told Kerryn that they would give her permission to access speech therapy but at her own cost.
Services are being denied or are not accessible. This is the status quo of a broken system. There was also the very inspiring story from Genevieve and her foster son of 15 years, 19-year-old Jesse. He is a very, very real. . .
Ms Mikakos On a point of order, President, the member has really engaged in a set speech during the course of her adjournment contribution. She has canvassed a number of different issues, and it has not been clear exactly what the action is that the member is seeking. Maybe if she had started off with that it would have been a little bit clearer, rather than just using it as an opportunity to canvass broad-ranging issues.
The PRESIDENT Minister, the member is entitled obviously to put a context to the action she is going to request. I am assuming that the action might relate to some systemic application, because it would be true that if the member was raising a range of different matters or instances it would not fit the adjournment on the basis that the adjournment can only go to one matter. So in that context I do understand the point you are making, but I think or my expectation is and I will listen that the member is coming to a point where the various issues that she has raised are part of addressing some sort of systemic issue or something of that nature. So I will be listening.
Ms CROZIER Minister, I know you were in the room and heard every single word, as did I and the others who were also in attendance. The problems with the system are numerous, and they do not stop at the age of 18. There are people in this sector who are calling on the Home Stretch program. The action I seek from you, Minister, is to follow the leadership shown by Matthew Guy, who believes, like I do, that this is the right and fair thing to do, and support Home Stretch.The PRESIDENT The action is to support Home Stretch.
Ms CROZIER Yes. She knows what it is.
The PRESIDENT That is the action. It is actually not helpful in putting an action that calls on a government to support the position of the leader of another party, but it is within the bounds, obviously, to request support for the Home Stretch program.