VCOSS Call to Action on Child Protection
29 February 2012 at 11:18 am
Victoria’s peak welfare body VCOSS has warned that the Victorian Government needs to act now to better support vulnerable children and young people following the release of the wide-ranging Protecting Victoria’s Vulnerable Children Inquiry report.
VCOSS, however, commended the work of the Victorian Government in its undertaking of the report which outlines the need for significant effort to reform the way vulnerable children are protected.
Tabled in Parliament this week, the report is the result of a 12 month long inquiry investigating systemic problems in Victoria’s child protection system and makes 90 recommendations to strengthen and improve child protection.
VCOSS says that the report provides a valuable overview of the reforms required to improve the services and systems to promote better outcomes for vulnerable children, young people and families.
VCOSS chief executive Cath Smith said that a whole of government approach across a range of portfolios, including Human Services, Early Childhood and Education, Health and Justice is critical as “vulnerability needs to be addressed through family support services and child protection and through improved responses by early childhood services, schools, hospitals, drug and alcohol and mental health services”.
“The Victorian Government now needs to work with all stakeholders, including community sector organisations, to develop both its response to the Inquiry and an implementation plan to drive improved outcomes for vulnerable children, young people and families,” Smith said.
VCOSS has proposed a number of areas which it believes need to be addressed as a matter of priority, including early intervention to improve the ability of all Victorian families to access the supports they need; education to improve how schools meet the learning and development needs of vulnerable children and young people, and funding for all services that support the wellbeing of vulnerable children, young people and families – including mental health, drug and alcohol, family violence, homeless, and child and family.
VCOSS is also advocating the need to strengthen the protection of children's rights by establishing a Commission for Children and Young People and within that office, an Aboriginal Children’s Commissioner.
Meanwhile, the Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association (VADA) has said that any attempt to improve Victoria’s child protection system will fail unless it takes into account the role of alcohol and drugs in family breakdown and the long term harm caused to children.
“If you ignore the alcohol or other drug problems at the root of the issue, then any solution is likely to be temporary. The drug and alcohol treatment sector has a huge role to play within the broader welfare sector and in particular with the child protection system,” VADA chief executive Sam Biondo said.
“It will now be up to the Victorian Government to ensure that the critically important work of counselling and treatment services are properly resourced and equipped to play their role in protecting Victoria’s vulnerable children.”
The Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu has said that the coalition government will “act immediately on the overarching recommendation of a whole-of-government Vulnerable Children and Families Strategy to respond comprehensively to the report", announcing a new high-level committee of Ministers to develop the strategy.
Baillieu has also committed an initial $61.4 million over four years to immediately start improvements to service delivery at the frontline.
But the shadow minister for child safety Danielle Green says that the government must promise additional funding in the 2012 State Budget to strengthen Victoria’s child protection system.
“There should be no higher priority for any government than keeping children safe from abuse and neglect,” Green said.
VCOSS has prepared an overview of the review available here.