Media Release by The Hon Julie Collins MP

More help for vulnerable children in Lismore

Joint Media Release with:

  • Janelle Saffin MP, Member for Page

Lismore is one of four sites across Australia trialling a new assessment tool to help doctors, nurses, teachers and other practitioners to identify and respond early to the needs of vulnerable children.

The Parliamentary Secretary for Community Services, Julie Collins, and the Member for Page, Janelle Saffin, today met with Interrelate, the agency running the Common Approach to Assessment Referral and Support (CAARS) trial in Lismore.

Ms Collins said children needing additional support in Lismore will benefit from more targeted support through the assessment tool, which has already been used to assist more than 100 local families.

“This common assessment tool helps guide practitioners in services such as our medical centres and schools to assess needs of vulnerable children and their families,” Ms Collins said.

“They look at the relationships, safety, health, wellbeing, learning and development needs of children and their families, using a common approach and common terminology.

“The assessment tool ensures that the right referrals are made and appropriate support is provided for a family’s specific needs.”

The Gillard Government has provided $1.1 million to the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth to implement the trial across four sites, as part of its efforts to prevent child abuse and neglect.

The pilot project follows a recommendation of the Common Approach to Assessment Referral and Support Taskforce, which brought together practitioners, non-government organisations and government representatives from all levels.

Ms Saffin said it is important to provide an early response to protect children and families.

“This is a significant trial, incorporating professionals across Lismore in the community health, education, general practice, family and children’s services and women’s health sectors,” Ms Saffin said.

“It will ensure they can help vulnerable families to get the help they need before their problems escalate.”