New Family Support Program
The Australian Government today announced changes to the Family Support Program to ensure it better supports vulnerable and disadvantaged families, and reduces red tape and paperwork for service providers.
The Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, unveiled the reforms at the Family Relationship Services Australia conference in Melbourne.
The Government will streamline more than 20 programs into four to provide more flexibility to meet families’ needs, while making sure the important elements of the current program are retained. The four programs are:
- Communities for Children to provide prevention and early intervention to families with children up to 12 years. This will include meeting the needs of Indigenous families in remote locations.
- Family Counselling Services to deal with adult relationship issues, counselling for children and broader parenting support.
- Specialist Services, including Kids in Focus and Specialised Family Violence Services, to help families affected by drugs, violence and trauma.
- Community Playgroups to support mums and dads with young children.
These programs will complement and work alongside each other and will be supported by national services, including the Family Relationships Advice Line, MensLine and the Raising Children website.
The Family Support Program will also continue to work closely with family law services to ensure families and children get the information and support they need, including when dealing with separation issues.
A major feature of the new Family Support Program will be the requirement for providers to ensure vulnerable and disadvantaged families and children are prioritised. This means providers will have to actively seek out vulnerable people to provide the support needed.
The reforms will also broaden the focus of support services for adults to ensure children are a key focus.
The 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 also streamline funding agreements so that there is one schedule for the program, and this will require only one annual audit.
This more efficient model means that service providers will be able to work more flexibly and creatively, and to adapt their work to meet the local needs of children and families.
Ms Macklin today also launched Stepfamilies Australia’s new National Network to deliver information and support tailored to the needs of Australia’s increasing number of stepfamilies.
The Government has invested $35,500 in the Network which will provide families with face-to-face and online counselling and parenting support.