The Tasmanian Government’s Strong Families Safe Kids reforms are now well underway and delivering strong outcomes for children and their families.
Caution should be exercised when comparing Tasmania’s data from the Report on Government Services 2021 with other states as our approach is fundamentally different to other jurisdictions.
In Tasmania, under the new approach introduced through our Strong Families, Safe Kids reform agenda, referrals are thoroughly assessed to determine and then plan the most beneficial course of action for that specific child or family. Importantly, in all cases, if a child is assessed to be in immediate danger, they are seen within 24 hours and I want to reassure the community of this.
Otherwise, where it is safe to do so, our priority is to intervene early with wrap-around support services for families, not to automatically progress the notification through the statutory system.
This new way of working has resulted in a more targeted approach by the Child Safety service more broadly which has resulted in a substantiation rate that is well above the rest of the nation at 89.5%.
What this means is that only the cases which need to move through to the statutory process do, while cases where a child can stay with their family safely are managed outside of the system. Because of this, data sets like RoGs show that our investigations are taking longer to commence.
In other states, an average of 52% of cases are being managed within the Child Safety System without being properly assessed, which can lead to poor outcomes if this level of involvement is not needed, resulting in unnecessary trauma for children and families.
Over the past two years, the new approach has significantly improved our performance, but more importantly, it is improving outcomes for Tasmanian families.
The Government is also committed to implementing measures that ensure the appropriate treatment of children and young people in the custodial system.
Accommodating and rehabilitating young people who have committed crimes is a challenging undertaking and every effort is taken to keep residents and staff safe.
The increase in incidents of self-harm not requiring hospitalisation is likely the result of an expansion of the types of incidents captured by this indicator in this year’s reporting, rather than an increase in those incidents.
Notwithstanding this, the Government is committed to improving our youth justice system and we are investing over $7 million towards redeveloping the Ashley Youth Detention Centre into a contemporary facility that will complement a modern, therapeutic model of care.