A commitment to middle years
Reliable research shows that most Australian young people in the middle years (age 8–15) are doing fine, but for those who aren’t, this is a crucial period of development, when many complex mental, social, emotional and physical problems emerge. The good news is that, with the right early support, most of these problems can be reversed, enabling a healthy, productive adulthood.
That’s why today I moved a motion in the Legislative Assembly calling on the ACT Government to make a formal commitment to improving services and programs for vulnerable kids in the middle years and to demonstrate that commitment by including specific measures in the upcoming budget.
Too many frontline workers have told me that we’re not currently doing nearly enough in this space. For example, did you know that there are currently no accommodation services in the ACT for kids under 16 who cannot live at home because of family conflict and breakdown? Instead, these children and young people end up couch surfing or living on the streets, where everything just gets worse and harder to fix.
I specifically encouraged the government to consider measures to better track data for these kids, to provide more diversion programs, and to establish supported accommodation for these kids to both keep them safe and help them and their families resolve their issues. These measures have all been proposed by strong community partners such as the Canberra PCYC, the Youth Coalition, Families ACT and ACT Shelter.
With the passage of my motion, I sincerely hope the ACT Government will keep its commitment to make provision in the budget for these kinds of measures.