Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Kids in Focus: helping drug-affected families

The Australian Government is taking a new, early-intervention approach to supporting children in families where their parents have alcohol and drug problems.

The announcement of more than $9 million over the next three years comes during Children’s Week, and recognises the particular needs of children living in households where alcohol and drugs are misused.

Kids in Focus – Family Drug Support will provide specialist intensive parenting services such as in-home parenting support, intensive aftercare support for parents who have left rehabilitation services and ante-natal and post-natal support for pregnant women with dependency problems.

It will help children in drug-affected families live in more stable and supportive environments, improve school attendance and give children opportunities to participate in outside social activities such as organised sport and other extracurricular activities.

Research from the Australian Institute of Family Studies has found that a substantial number of Australian children are living in households where parents routinely misuse alcohol and other drugs.

Every year there are around 60,000 substantiated cases of child abuse and neglect, a third of which involve parents that experience significant problems with substance abuse and 31 per cent with alcohol abuse.

Substance abuse can have devastating impacts on families, and often results in mental health problems, domestic violence, chronic illness and social isolation.

As well as helping parents provide stable parenting and care for their children, the program can also support other family members. This could include a parent trying to deal with a partner’s addiction or a child whose drug misuse is affecting other children in the family.

This program will be available in each state and territory through a selected community service provider and will have strong links to specialised drug and alcohol services.

Parents will be able to access this service through self-referral or through state and federal family services such as the Family Support Program, Communities for Children and child protection services.

Kids in Focus: Family Drug Support is a key national initiative under the Government’s National Framework for the Protection of Australia’s Children 2009-2020.

Kids in Focus: Family Drug Support will replace the National Illicit Drugs Strategy Strengthening Families Program from 1 May 2010.

Applications are now open for organisations to provide services under Kids in Focus: Family Drug Support program.

Existing National Illicit Drugs Strategy Strengthening Families Program providers are encouraged to apply for this new program.