The Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare (the Centre) welcomes the $895 million investment in the child and family services system announced in today’s Victorian State Budget for 2023/24.
Despite a difficult fiscal environment in which families continue to struggle, the Budget recognises the complex needs of the state’s most vulnerable children, young people and families, with significant support for young people in the Out of Home Care system.
The Centre CEO Deb Tsorbaris said “the $548 million investment into residential care services is really exciting to see. It recognises the needs of young people, will help meet demand, and enable care homes to deliver more therapeutic supports.”
“This significant investment will go a long way to providing children and young people in residential care with the level of support and services they deserve,” she said.
An additional $33 million will also support around 225 young people with complex needs when they leave residential care, providing multidisciplinary support and access to housing.
The announcement of $11 million to continue trials to embed vital family services in universal settings such as schools, early years services and community health hubs, is also welcomed by the Centre. This means vulnerable families can access support where and when they need it.
Of particular note is the Government’s investment of $140 million to support greater self-determination for Aboriginal services and communities, and to reduce the overrepresentation of Aboriginal children in the child protection system by the establishment of Aboriginal-led, end-to-end, child protection services.
“The government has recognised the need to be investing in family services, both Aboriginal and mainstream, to systematically improve the lives of children and families,” said Ms Tsorbaris.
The safety needs of children and families continue to be a priority for this government following the 2016 Royal Commission into Family Violence, with a further $117 million to continue to support victim survivors of family violence, provide specialist family violence legal assistance in court, and increase the number of sexual assault support services available.
The budget includes several other funding initiatives that will support better outcomes for children and families, including funding for children with additional needs. The suite of initiatives under the Best Start, Best Life reforms include new bilingual kinders, new toy libraries, and additional Bush Kindergarten programs, all encouraging parent and child involvement in the critically important early years learning.
The Centre looks forward to continuing to work with Minister Blandthorn and the Andrews Government on implementation of the budget initiatives announced today as well as on early intervention, investment in the family services platform, and further scaling up of what works.
We will continue to analyse the Budget measures and what they mean for families and our workforce.
Read the Centre’s Summary of State Budget Measures here.