Media Release by The Hon Julie Collins MP

Visit to Relationships Australia Tasmania

Parliamentary Secretary for Community Services Julie Collins today visited Relationships Australia Tasmania to discuss reforms to the Australian Government’s Family Support Program.

Ms Collins also toured the facilities and met the counselling team and senior management.

“I was pleased to see the wide range of services available to clients and to talk with the staff about how the Family Support Program reform will ensure vulnerable families and children get the support they need for the best start to life,” Ms Collins said.

Through Relationships Australia Tasmania, a range of family relationship services are delivered across the state under the Family Support Program, including counselling, dispute resolution, and support for children after separation.

At a meeting with Tasmanian Family Support Program stakeholders earlier in the day, Ms Collins reaffirmed the Gillard Government’s commitment to provide greater support to the most vulnerable in the community.

Today’s stakeholder meeting follows last week’s announcement by the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, of changes to the Family Support Program to ensure it is better targeted at vulnerable and disadvantaged families, and reduces red tape and paperwork for service providers.

The Gillard Government committed $330 million to the Family Support Program in 2010-11, which includes family law services.

These changes are part of the Government’s National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children, helping reduce the number of children entering the child protection system. They also support our commitment to putting the safety and wellbeing of children at the heart of the Australian Government’s social policy agenda.

Along with the changed program structure, the Government will streamline funding agreements so that there is one schedule for the program, and this will require only one annual acquittal.

This more efficient model means that service providers, like Relationships Australia Tasmania, will be able to work more flexibly and creatively, and to adapt their work to meet the local needs of children and families.

Ms Collins will participate in the Family Support Program Reform consultation sessions in other states in the coming weeks.