A national vision for ending social disadvantage in Australia .
The Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare is calling on the next Federal government to commit to a national vision for Australia’s children and families who are experiencing vulnerability and hardship.
The vision must:
- Place children at the heart of all government decision making.
- Streamline communication and decision-making processes between Commonwealth, state and territory governments so that children, young people and families receive vital supports as needed.
- Include the voices and expertise of affected people and communities in government policy and program development.
It’s time to take action, and make sure that families, children and young people are getting the right support when they need it.
What we know:
Australia’s social welfare system has reached crisis point.
- 1 in 35 children had involvement with child protection in 2017/2018 
- 55,300 children and young people across Australia are living in out-of-home care 
- 1.6 million women aged 15 and over have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from a partner 
- 72,000 women and 32,000 children sought assistance from a homelessness service due to family violence 
Our social safety net is failing all of us.
- It’s expensive to run, complex to administer, and doesn’t deliver on its objectives.
- Our social safety net is creating cycles of deeply entrenched disadvantage by not effectively addressing root causes.
- We lack federal leadership on how we can collectively help Australian families and their children who have been left behind over many decades.
It’s time for solutions.
What we need our Federal government to do:
Appoint a Cabinet level minister for children and young people
To oversee the development of a national blueprint for a social welfare system that is underpinned by principles of fairness, equity and dignity for all.
Develop a national blueprint that holds politicians accountable for improving outcomes for families, young people and children
Like New Zealand, our government must create legislation that makes our politicians accountable for improving outcomes in areas such as poverty, housing, educational engagement and social inclusion. We need a cabinet level minister to be required, by legislation, to report on our progress in implementing the national blueprint.
The national implementation blueprint must focus on six key priority areas:
1. A fair and equitable federal income support system
- Every Australian has the right to a life free from poverty, and to be treated with dignity and respect.
- We call on the next Federal Government to urgently increase Newstart by $75 per week.
2. Getting it right from the start: The first 1000 days of a child’s life
- Invest in intensive ante and post-natal support services
- Invest in evidence based programs that strengthen families
- End harmful and punitive programs like ParentsNext that do not benefit for parents and families.
3. Keeping families together: Proactive and holistic support
- Invest in family support services to ensure that community organisations can provide essential support to families experiencing vulnerability.
- Strengthen enforcement powers within the child support system.
4. Giving all young people a proper go
- Create a cabinet level minister for children and young people
- Fund a national youth affairs peak body.
- Support to the states and territories to extend the age that young people leave out of home care to 21.
5. The right to self-determination
- Recognise the importance of self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in all areas of government policy making.
6. Investing in what works: An Australian evidence base
- Develop an Australian evidence base on what works for families and children, so that we can give families and children the highest quality services.
1) Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), ‘Child Protection Australia 2017-18’, p. v
2) AIHW, ‘Child Protection Australia 2017-18’, p. v
3) Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Personal Safety Survey 2016
4) ABS, Personal Safety Survey 2016
5) Davidson, P., Saunders, P., Bradbury, B. and Wong, M. (2018), Poverty in Australia, 2018 ACOSS/UNSW Poverty and Inequality Partnership Report No. 2, Sydney: ACOSS, p 21