Giving children a voice: 4th Children and Family Roundtable
The role of the National Children’s Commissioner in giving children a voice and a role in decision making was the focus of the fourth Children and Family Roundtable, held in Melbourne today.
The Minister for Community Services, Julie Collins, and the Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing, Shayne Neumann, also talked with Roundtable members about progress with key Australian Government programs affecting families and children. This included the Family Support Program consultations and two key health reform initiatives.
Ms Collins, who chaired the meeting, said Roundtable members were provided insight into this valuable new role by the National Children’s Commissioner, Megan Mitchell.
“Ms Mitchell was at the Roundtable to explain that a key element of her work will be promoting awareness and advocating for children’s rights in policies, programs and legislation.
“The Commissioner will also be examining existing and new legislation to ensure children’s rights are adequately considered.
“Roundtable members comprise the nation’s top child and family experts – including advocates, service providers and representatives of carers – and it was valuable to have us all sitting around the table to hear Ms Mitchell discuss her new role.
“The Roundtable always provides an opportunity to get a lot of interesting ideas and identify issues across a range of problems affecting families.”
Ms Collins also thanked Roundtable members for their involvement in the consultation process for the future directions of the Australian Government’s $1 billion Family Support Program.
“The Family Support Program consultations were extremely well attended, and provided an opportunity for participants to voice their opinions about how the program is operating and where it was working well,” Ms Collins said.
Mr Neumann spoke with Roundtable members about two key initiatives that are providing significant support to families and children – this included the national network of Medicare Locals, and the new Grow Up Smiling dental program.
“The sixty-one Medicare Locals now in operation across Australia can strengthen the primary health care system,” Mr Neumann said.
“The roundtable provided an opportunity to outline how Medicare Locals have already set up new programs to improve aspects of child or family health.
“The forum allowed members to discuss the policy development and progress of the Medicare Local Network.”
In addition, Mr Neumann discussed the dental benefits program, Grow Up Smiling, that will commence on 1 January 2014.
“Grow Up Smiling will make around 3.4 million children eligible for up to $1,000 in benefits over two calendar years for basic dental services. Children aged between 2-17 years who meet a means test will be able to access the program,” Mr Neumann said.
More information on Grow Up Smiling can be found at www.health.gov.au/dental
Information about the Family Support Program consultations is available at www.fahcsia.gov.au/FSPfuturedirections.