The Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare welcomes today’s budget announcement with its significant investment in mental health services and services for children, young people and families.
“The additional $1.2 billion investment in the child and family services system that was announced today will significantly improve the lives of children, young people and families in Victoria. We particularly welcome the $842 million in mental health and wellbeing support for children and young people. This will make such a difference for families,” said CEO of the Centre, Ms Deb Tsorbaris.
Given the number of children entering Victoria’s child protection system and the complexity of their needs, today’s announcement of $171 million over four years to recruit another 280 child protection workers and to increase out-of-home care placements for children who can’t live safely with their families is also very welcome.
“Early intervention and diversion remain key priorities for our sector,” said Ms Tsorbaris. “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 make sure our care services can provide this safety and support.”
Ms Tsorbaris welcomed the announcement of funding for an additional 500 families and a trial to embed family services in universal settings such as schools and early years services. “This is something our sector has long advocated for,” said Ms Tsorbaris. “It means families can access services when they need them.”
“Children and families will also benefit from the government’s $167 million investment in making three-year-old kinder available for children in every local government area,” said Ms Tsorbaris. ‘Getting in early is so critical if we want children to thrive.”
The Centre commends the government’s investment of $44 million to support women, children and young people affected by family violence and sexual assault. “This is very welcome news. The Centre has long been concerned about the gap in services for young people who use violence in the home,” Ms Tsorbaris said.
Additional funding to expand the Better Futures and Home Stretch programs means young people in permanent care now have a safety net like other young care leavers. “This funding means they have more options,” said Ms Tsorbaris.
Ms Tsorbaris also welcomed funding to trial Frontline Victoria, a new employment program. “This will help address one of the biggest challenges we face – attracting skilled workers to work with our most vulnerable children and families. The trial means we can give graduates a high-quality paid placement experience. Many children and families are still doing it tough. It is good to see a budget that recognises this,” she said.
The Centre has released a summary of the key 2021/22 Victorian State Budget measures.