Focus on mental health support for children and families
Strengthening mental health support for children and their families has been a key focus of the second meeting of the Australian Government’s Children and Family Roundtable in Melbourne today.
The Roundtable members, providing advice to the Australian Government, also discussed how children and family services can be strengthened through collaboration and integration within the Government and services sector.
Minister for Mental Health, Mark Butler, welcomed the invitation to engage with the child and family experts on the Roundtable and detailed the Government’s $2.2 billion National Mental Health Reform package in his address.
“Our mental health reforms have a clear focus on prevention and early intervention for young people and support for families and carers,” Mr Butler said.
“Unlike any other chronic disease, mental illness affects people of all ages, with 25 per cent of people with a mental disorder experiencing their first episode before the age of 12.”
The Minister for Community Services, Julie Collins, chaired the meeting, which also heard from Minister for Human Services, Senator Kim Carr.
In his presentation to the Roundtable, Senator Kim Carr said the Department of Human Services works intensively with families with complex needs.
“The Department is working to unify services offered by Centrelink, Medicare, Australian Hearing, CRS Australia and Child Support to ensure families going through a difficult time get the help they need,” Senator Kim Carr said.
“This includes 700 social workers who work with parents needing extra support, connecting them to specialist services offered by government or community agencies.
“We are rolling out a Case Coordination trial in to 44 locations around Australia. The 19 sites up and running have already helped more than 8,000 people with complex needs – including many families.”
Ms Collins said discussions through the Roundtable would assist the Australian Government in developing support policies and programs.
“The Roundtable is a valuable opportunity where Government, in partnership with the community sector, can work together to strengthen our support services in the best interest of children and families,” Ms Collins said.
“In the area of mental health, when children and young people are supported with appropriate services, they are more likely to learn life skills, enabling them to take an active role in society,” Ms Collins said.
The Roundtable is made up of 14 child and family experts, including advocates, service providers and representatives of carers.