New Family Support Program
4 November 2010 at 9:55 am
The Gillard Government has announced changes to the Family Support Program in a bid to reduce red tape and paperwork for service providers – changes that have been welcomed by the Not for Profit sector.
The Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, unveiled the reforms at the Family Relationship Services Australia Conference in Melbourne.
The Government says it will streamline more than 20 programs into four to provide more flexibility to meet families’ needs, while making sure the important elements of the current program are retained.
The four programs are:
- Communities for Children to provide prevention and early intervention to families with children up to 12 years. This will include meeting the needs of Indigenous families in remote locations.
- Family Counselling Services to deal with adult relationship issues, counselling for children and broader parenting support.
- Specialist Services, including Kids in Focus and Specialised Family Violence Services, to help families affected by drugs, violence and trauma.
- Community Playgroups to support mums and dads with young children.
The Government says these programs will be supported by national services, including the Family Relationships Advice Line, MensLine and the Raising Children website.
It says the Family Support Program will also continue to work closely with family law services to ensure families and children get the information and support they need, including when dealing with separation issues.
Executive Director of Catholic Social Services Australia, Frank Quinlan says the changes to family services have great potential to free up services from overly burdensome red tape and reporting requirements and enable them to focus on providing much needed services to families requiring assistance.
Also speaking at the Family Relationships Services Australia Conference in Melbourne, Quinlan said these changes will see the Government working together with service providers to direct services to families in need.
Quinlan says agencies want to spend their time delivering services, not dealing with red tape and Minister Macklin is to be congratulated for listening to those agencies, and for working with them to improve services.
A major feature of the new Family Support Program will be the requirement for providers to ensure vulnerable and disadvantaged families and children are prioritised. This means providers will have to actively seek out vulnerable people to provide the support needed.
The reforms will also broaden the focus of support services for adults to ensure children are a key focus.
The Federal Government has committed $330 million to the Family Support Program in 2010-11, which includes family law services.
Along with the changed program structure, the Government says it will also streamline funding agreements so that there is one schedule for the program, and this will require only one annual audit.