Victorian Protecting Children Awards

Member’s Statement

Ms MIKAKOS (Minister for Families and Children) (10:10:24) — On Monday night I had the privilege of speaking at this year’s Victorian Protecting Children Awards. The awards recognise and celebrate the achievements of our child and family services sector, our child protection workers and our foster and kinship carers, who do so much amazing work.

Thirteen awards were handed out, including the Robin Clark Making a Difference Award, which went to Bendigo and District Aboriginal Cooperative (BDAC) for their work on the section 18 As If pilot. The pilot saw up to 15 children on Children’s Court protection orders successfully managed by BDAC, acting in the legal capacity of the secretary of my department. Section 18 is an Australian-first initiative, formally called Aboriginal Children in Aboriginal Care, which gives Aboriginal community-controlled organisations greater responsibility for the case management of children subject to protection orders, and it is now being implemented in other parts of Victoria.

The Carer Award of the night went to foster parents Leonie and Doug Tate. This amazing couple have opened their home to children for as little as one night and as long as nine years over the past three decades. Leonie and Doug’s first foster child is now 43, and they still consider her a daughter. They work incredibly hard, and their support is indispensable. I cannot thank them and all other carers enough.

The Minister’s Award for Innovation in Protecting Children was won by the Gatehouse Centre at the Royal Children’s Hospital for the work that they do supporting children who have experienced sexual abuse. The Gatehouse Centre’s Our Space initiative is a resource designed to build resilience in young women and girls. The success of the pilot has led to the development of a resource kit comprising education and training modules.

There were many other award winners that evening, and time does not permit me to mention each one of them, but I want to take this opportunity to congratulate each and every one of the award winners again. I would like to also mention our dedicated child protection workers. I am extremely proud of all the award recipients. There can be no greater responsibility and no greater calling than to create better, happier and more productive lives for vulnerable children in Victoria. We are very fortunate to have such dedicated and committed individuals who dedicate their time to this task every day.