Media Release by The Hon Julie Collins MP

National Communities for Children forum

The Parliamentary Secretary for Community Services, Julie Collins today opened the Communities for Children National Forum, in Glenelg, South Australia.

Ms Collins said the two-day forum was an opportunity for 120 staff from Communities for Children services across Australia to share ideas on how to best support disadvantaged children and families.

“The Gillard Government is investing $134.9 million over three years in Communities for Children to deliver child and family services in disadvantaged communities across Australia, including $15.9 million in South Australia,” Ms Collins said.

Communities for Children brings together all levels of government and non-government organisations to deliver better outcomes for disadvantaged children and families, in a way that is sensitive to local needs.”

Ms Collins said the Communities for Children program was evaluated in 2009 as part of the Stronger Families in Australia study, which showed it was making a difference to the lives of families in some of Australia’s most disadvantaged communities.

“The first phase of the study showed that parents living in Communities for Children sites reported higher levels of employment and better parenting practices than parents living in comparable areas without a Communities for Children service,” Ms Collins said.

“The study also found that Communities for Children had positive impacts for vulnerable families, such as improvements in children’s language skills and higher parental employment and involvement in the community.”

Ms Collins said the Gillard Government was also providing additional funding of $42.5 million over four years for the Communities for Children program as part of the Building Australia’s Future Workforce package.

“This includes $23.4 million for three new and seven expanded, existing Communities for Children services in the Government’s ten sites to help teenage parents and jobless families with locally tailored initiatives to parents and their children, such as playgroups, parenting education classes, mentoring and support groups, and early learning programs.

“Once the three new sites commence on 1 January 2012, Communities for Children will be supporting 52 communities across the country.

“The early years of a child’s life are critical to their development and the vital early intervention and prevention services Communities for Children delivers work towards ensuring that children have the best possible start in life.”