The Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare has welcomed the investment of $272 million across child protection and family services as well as the range of initiatives funded under the Early Intervention Investment Framework in this year’s budget.
The 2022/23 Budget has had to respond to extraordinary and difficult circumstances in the context of COVID-19 recovery. The Government’s continued investment in child and family services, out-of-home care, family violence, mental health and wellbeing, and early childhood education are all steps in the right direction.
Given the number of children entering Victoria’s child protection system and the complexity of their needs, the announcement of $57.6 million over three years to work with an additional one thousand families is a much-needed measure to address demand and support staff capacity. The Centre acknowledges the focus on support for children and families with disability.
We welcome an additional $19 million in funding for one year for residential care providers to ensure therapeutic residential care is provided to the young people who need it most, a measure that will need to be embedded over a longer period across all Victorian residential care units.
The Centre commends the continued focus on self-determination, the state’s path to Treaty, and funding for Aboriginal community-controlled organisations.
“Early intervention and diversion are key priorities for our sector,” said Ms Tsorbaris, CEO of the Centre. “Children have the right to be safe and nurtured and where this cannot happen in the home, for a range of reasons, we need to ensure that we are helping families as early as possible.”
Ms Tsorbaris noted the investment of $42.9 million in 2022-23 to strengthen community-based mental health, including in-person group-based parenting sessions to be delivered in regional Infant, Child and Youth Area Mental Health and Wellbeing Services.
“Children and families will also benefit from the government’s funding for early childhood education,” said Ms Tsorbaris. “For our sector, inclusion and equity are essential so that every child gets the best possible start in life no matter what their circumstances are. It’s great to see the expansion of the Kindergarten Fee Subsidy and the continuation of Early Childhood LOOKOUT”, she said.
The Centre noted the government’s support for children and young people at school given the interruptions of the pandemic, as well as several measures across the Justice portfolio, particularly those focused on diverting children from the youth justice system.
“Another important measure for our sector is the recognition of the need for an improved pipeline of workers by announcing an attraction and recruitment campaign for the community services sector and scholarships,” said Ms Tsorbaris.
“While the announcement of a help-desk for carers is a step forward to support those who give so much back to the community by caring for children and young people who cannot live with their families, we know what works and look forward to seeing further developments in this space,” she said.
We are pleased to see continued investment in family violence prevention, with a particular focus on children, with funding to sustain delivery of specialised therapeutic interventions for children and young people who are victims of family violence.
The Centre and the child and family services sector will continue to work with the Government to advance opportunities that will benefit every Victorian child, young person, family, and carer that needs support.
We will continue to analyse the budget measures and what they mean for children, young people, families, and our sector.
Read the Centre’s Summary of State Budget Measures.