Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Assessing the needs of vulnerable children and their families

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Jenny Macklin MP, Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

  • Hon Julie Collins MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Community Services

A new tool to assess the health, wellbeing and needs of vulnerable children will be trialed in four locations across Australia.

The Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin and the Parliamentary Secretary for Community Services, Julie Collins, today announced the sites and community organisations that will participate in the trial project.

The four community organisations to take part are: Northern Connections in Elizabeth (SA); Interrelate Family Centre in Lismore (NSW); Gippsland Lakes Community Health in Gippsland (VIC); and the Rockingham Kwinana Division of General Practice in Kwinana (WA).

The common assessment tool helps to guide practitioners determine the needs of families and children. Practitioners will look at the child’s and family’s relationship, safety, health, wellbeing, learning and development needs. This approach ensures that the right referrals are made and appropriate support is provided.

Families and children will benefit from more targeted support as the tool will bring a common understanding among professionals including doctors, nurses, teachers and childcare workers, about how to identify children who need additional support.

This tool will make it make it easier for practitioners to identify and respond early to the needs of families and children.

In February this year, the Gillard Government announced that $1.1 million would be provided to the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY) to trial the new tool. The sites were recommended by ARACY.

The pilot project follows a recommendation of the Common Approach to Assessment Referral and Support Taskforce, which brought together Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments, non-government organisations and expert practitioners to develop a common approach to identifying and responding to the needs of children at risk.

This trial is being conducted as part of the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020. Further information on the National Framework can be found at