Media Release by The Hon Julie Collins MP

Building Child Aware communities

The Australian Government is providing $810,000 over the next four years to help communities better manage the impact of child abuse and neglect and deliver more targeted services for children.

Speaking at the Child Aware Approaches Conference in Melbourne today, the Minister for Community Services, Julie Collins, said the investment will build on the success and momentum of the Australian Government’s $5.7 million community-driven, child safety initiative, Child Aware Approaches.

“All children should have the best start in life, and they should also be able to grow up safe, healthy and happy,” Ms Collins said.

“A key element of this investment announced today is a $400,000 pilot scheme which will build 20 local Child Aware Local Communities over three years.

“These Child Aware Local Communities will be supported to set up practical plans of action tailored to their own local needs to promote awareness and act on issues that affect children.

“This vital work will be driven through the non-government sector, commencing initially in five local communities. The Australian Centre for Child Protection at the University of South Australia will commence this important work this year.

“Another important element of this $810,000 investment is a project that will develop a Good Practice Guide to Child Aware Approaches and develop a set of principles to promote child safety in the wider community.

Funding of $300,000 over four years will also be provided to build on the new Indigenous Promising Practices web based resource to make sure we have a platform to hear and share the positive experiences and practices of what is working in Indigenous child and family sensitive practice. The Australian Institute of Family Studies will begin this work this year.

“Part of the funds will also be used to explore how we might develop stronger engagement with Indigenous communities to build support for protecting children, and with culturally and linguistically diverse communities to promote awareness of the support available to them.”

Ms Collins said today’s announcement is another significant investment in the 12-year National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children, the first ever long term national approach to improving the safety and wellbeing of our children.

“The Framework is built on the premise that if we provide the right supports and services early to vulnerable families at least some child abuse and neglect can be prevented.

“It harnesses an unprecedented level of cooperation and commitment between all levels of government and non-government organisations.”

The Child Aware Approaches Conference will also contribute to other key national reform agendas such as the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022 and National Mental Health Reform.

Ms Collins said the Australian Government provided $200,000 for Families Australia to host the Child Aware Approaches Conference in recognition of the importance of bringing outstanding people in the field together to share their knowledge and experiences and showcase innovative resources and practices that contribute to the national campaign to keep Australia’s children safe and well

“And the Australian Government will continue to support the delivery of National Child Protection Week both this year and next, by providing funding of $600,000 to the National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.

“These initiatives are among a raft of programs and activities we are funding to progress the Second Action Plan 2012-15 of the National Framework.

“They are all based on the crucial need to put the safety of children at the centre of everything we do.

“And on making our communities aware that the safety of children is everyone’s responsibility.”