Services Victoria welcomes the reform that is underway in Victoria to improve
the way children and families receive support, and help build communities where
children are safe and nurtured, and families are supported. But there are complex issues still to be
faced, and it will be a continuing challenge to Government and to the community
to maintain the momentum of this work, and provide adequate resources.
An extensive reform program is underway in Victoria to assist and
support children in need. The Government’s Roadmap for Reform: strong families, safe
children shifts focus towards prevention and early interventions to assist parents
and families to deal with challenges. Increased
support to Aboriginal children, their families and their communities recognises
the right of Aboriginal people to self-determination in relation to the care of
Aboriginal children. Support and Safety
Hubs across Victoria will improve help and support for families experiencing
family violence. A process is underway
to reform how out-of-home care is provided.
through investment in early interventions will help reduce the number of children
and young people coming into contact with the child protection, out-of-home-care
and youth justice systems. It is important that leaders across the community
services sector can continue to contribute to the design, development and
implementation of Roadmap initiatives.
The establishment of
17 Support and Safety Hubs across Victoria is underway. These will give local
communities access to a range of social services, including those related to family
violence and housing. The first hubs in Barwon, Bayside Peninsula, Inner
Gippsland, Mallee and North-East Melbourne will be operational from November
2017. Careful planning needs to occur to
ensure that children and families are not adversely impacted by changes to
service provision during the establishment of the hubs.
A process is also underway
to reform how out of home care is provided. This must include providing parenting support
to families before, during and after involvement with the child protection and
OOHC systems. Greater recognition of the support required for carers is
particularly important, especially kinship carers (the fastest growing form of OOHC
for children). Service providers and families will need to be consulted in the
development of the funding model for these services, to address concerns and inconsistencies
relating to carer allowances.
Additional steps are
required to ensure Aboriginal children and families receive care and support
that is culturally appropriate and safe. The Secretary of the Department of
Health and Human Services has the power to authorise an Aboriginal
agency to care for an Aboriginal child, under Section
18 of the Victorian Children, Youth and
Families Act 2005. t is now a priority to ensure there are no
further delays or barriers to the implementation of Section 18.
and Families Research Strategy 2017-2019 and the investment in learning system grants to
promote innovation and the establishment of OPEN (Outcomes,
Practice and Evidence Network) demonstrates a commitment to research and
evidence based practice. It is important that Victorian research is
sufficiently funded to inform program development and continuous evaluation.
Government is urged to maintain the momentum of this important work, to support
communities where children are safe and nurtured, and families are supported.
Contact: Denis Fitzgerald, Executive Director, tel 0418 136 372, firstname.lastname@example.org.