Youth Action welcomes the invitation to provide a submission to the inquiry into the child protection and social services system (the System). We have welcomed the changes made as a result of various government’s increased focus on evidence based and trauma informed approaches to marginalised young people at risk of, or in contact with the System. However, too many young people still find themselves at a disadvantage.
There are continued calls for greater participation of young people in policy development and service provision. This is despite many reports, inquiries and commissions into the failings of the System recommending significant, system level changes. Youth Action is advocating for a NSW where every young person is valued, engaged and supported. The cornerstone of this objective is improving the decision-making processes in NSW through utilising the diverse range of expertise of both young people and the youth sector as experts in their own lives.
In November 2017 we responded to the Department of Family and Community Services discussion paper, Shaping a Better Child Protection System. We advocated for an integrated, whole of government approach to securing the best outcomes for children and young people who need protection in NSW.
In October 2017 we responded to the Department of Justice's Strengthening Child Sexual Abuse Laws discussion paper. Our response focussed in particular on changes to sexting laws that we have previously advocated for.
All children and young people at risk in NSW should receive the services they need to succeed in life. But this is not the case. Young people aged 14 – 17 are less likely to get a response from child protection when at risk of significant harm. They are ‘forgotten’ in the system.
Where possible, we know that many youth services are plugging the gaps but this isn’t sustainable nor is the work recognised and funded.
Piecemeal adjustments will no longer do, and we need to see an overarching strategy for young people at risk in NSW.
Youth Action recommends:
- The NSW government provide a clear picture of the current systemic response to this age group
- The NSW government commit to reviewing their systems and implementing an overarching strategy to ensure young people who need support receive it
- That funding levels are appropriate to need, and funding is invested in early intervention and prevention, not just crisis.
- That the NSW government report on progress made regarding previous inquiries.