State budget surplus means we can afford to support children, young people and families in need

State budget response from the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare

27 May 2019

“Today we’ve seen another budget surplus – this shows that we can afford a decent society. We can afford more support for families who are struggling to stay together,” said Deb Tsorbaris, CEO of the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare.

Victoria’s peak body for child and family services has called on the state government in this term to take the opportunity to help children, young people and families who need it most.

“We need to prevent families going into crisis. We know that with the right support, families can stay together, and children can stay safe,” Ms. Tsorbaris said. 

“We now have a demand funding model for our child protection system. We need to see a similar funding model for family services.”

“That means we need the government to dramatically increase funding for family services in this term – so that families can receive support when they need it” Ms Tsorbaris said.

The Centre is developing its own investment blueprint to reform child and family services in this term of government. This will guide the sector’s transition from a service system focused on crisis response to one characterised by early intervention, evidence-informed practice and a more seamless response to meeting the needs of children, young people and families who are disadvantaged or experiencing vulnerability.

“Children and parents need help early, so that families can stay together,” Ms. Tsorbaris said.

Today the Centre welcomed the announcement of ongoing funding for the successful kinship care model, and continued support for the transition of Aboriginal children into the care of Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations.

Better outcomes sit at the forefront of our shared vision for Victoria’s Aboriginal children, and the Centre welcomed this government’s firm commitments and resource allocation to work towards better outcomes for Aboriginal children and families.

The Centre acknowledged the government’s significant investment in early childhood education, universal 3 year old kindergarten, more free school meals for 1000 students and its free dental care program.

And the Centre welcomed funding to respond to children needing specialised care entering child protection. Earlier this month, the Centre and Berry Street exposed the NDIS forcing children with high-needs disabilities into child protection because their parents could no look longer after them.

“The Andrews Government has committed to reforming the child protection system to put a stronger focus on prevention and early intervention, so struggling families receive support before they reach crisis point.  This is absolutely crucial if we are to better protect vulnerable kids in our community.” Ms Tsorbaris said.

The Centre has argued that the current rate of growth in child protection is unsustainable.

“We know that Victoria has close to 12,000 children in out-of-home care. Based on the current growth rate, this number will double in less than a decade.”

“We must use budget surpluses to provide support for families at risk of separation, before entering the point of crisis.”

“We need to see a greater focus on providing more safe and secure housing for homeless children, young people and families.”

“We also know there will always be children and young people who are unable to live with their parents due to neglect, abuse or violence – we need to do all we can to provide them with the best possible care and support.” Ms Tsorbaris said.

“We need additional investment to help provide safe, stable and supportive environments for children and young people, so they’re better able to recover from past trauma and look forward to the future.”

“We welcome the support for 250 young people in care beyond their 18th birthday. Now we need those supports to be universally offered to every young person in out-of-home care.”

“We also call on the government to continue to support early intervention and diversion of young people from offending, as well as reduce recidivism among young offenders.”

“More can be done to prevent young people entering the youth justice system, and to assist young people in youth justice towards re-entering and contributing to a better community,” Ms. Tsorbaris said. 

Inquiries: Deb Tsorbaris 0417 599 869

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