An investment in the mental health, wellbeing and education of Victoria's children and families
21 May 2021 at 3:36 pm
Deb Tsorbaris, CEO of the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare, responds to the Victorian state budget.
Budget time always brings about feelings of excitement and trepidation, as child and family services and other sectors anticipate the government measures that will be handed down. This Victorian state budget will be remembered for its focus on COVID-19 recovery, responding to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System and its focus on caring for Victorian communities.
For the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare (the Centre), we believe the $1.2 billion investment in the child and family services system will significantly improve the lives of children, young people and families in Victoria. We particularly welcome investment of more than $842 million in mental health and wellbeing support for children and young people. This will make such a difference for families who faced ongoing crises from bushfires to COVID-19 and the flow on effects including poverty and loss of employment.
We strongly believe that 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 the safety and support required. Given the number of children entering Victoria’s child protection system and the complexity of their needs, the 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 was very welcome.
Early intervention remains a key priority for our sector. While continued investment in statutory child protection, including the child protection workforce, is crucial to keep children safe, it is equally important that we concurrently invest in early intervention to address the drivers of entry into care. We therefore welcome investment of $70.3 million over four years for early intervention and diversion initiatives including continued funding for Koorie Supported Playgroups, In-Home Parent Coaching, and a trial to embed family services in universal settings such as schools and early years services. This will mean families can access services when they first need them and not just when they’re at crisis point.
Budget time also provides an opportunity for the government to support innovation in the child and family services sector by funding trials and pilots. These ideas are often sourced from organisations working at the coal face and provide the opportunity to address issues directly.
We welcomed the funding for Putting Families First, a trial in Brimbank-Melton and Goulburn that will provide interdisciplinary support to 200 families and Frontline Victoria, a new employment program which will help address one of the biggest challenges we face – attracting skilled workers to work with our most vulnerable children and families.
We look forward to working with the Victorian government to continue strengthening this critical focus on early intervention in the child and family services system.
You can read the Centre’s summary of the budget measures relevant to the child and family services sector here.