Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

$100 million to help families and local communities

The Australian Government is providing more than $100 million for prevention and early intervention programs to support children and families in 46 communities of high disadvantage across Australia.

The existing Communities for Children (CfC) sites will be extended and expanded for another three years to build on the success of the program.

CfC is a key plank of the Government’s support for families, providing flexible funding to communities that can be allocated according to local needs.

Services include mobile and outreach playgroups, early learning and literacy programs, parenting and family support programs, child nutrition, and child friendly community events.

The Government is committed to a child-centred approach to family policy.

By identifying families at risk, we can reach out with targeted support services to prevent crises before they happen and protect children from the damaging consequences.

By building resilient families and strong communities we are making the best investment we can in the wellbeing of children.

As part of the new Family Support Program, CfC sites will target families with children aged from newborn to 12 years, who are at risk of disadvantage.

Of the 45 current sites funded under the initiative, 11 are located in New South Wales, eight in Queensland, eight in Victoria, six in Western Australia, five in South Australia, four in the Northern Territory and three in Tasmania.

A new CfC site will be established in the coming months.

Responding to local needs and the difficult economic times, funding for some sites has been increased to target the most vulnerable children in the most disadvantaged areas.

The decision to expand CfC follows a national evaluation of the program which showed there were positive outcomes for children and families in these communities.

These included a decline in hostile and harsh parenting practices and parents reporting increased confidence.

There was stronger development in children’s vocabulary and talking abilities – particularly in children from low education and low income households.

Overall, parents were more positive about their neighbourhood as a good place to bring up children.

One highly effective project from the Port Augusta CfC site in South Australia is the Parent Advisory Group Extraordinaire or PAGE.

PAGE is a volunteer group of parents with young children who want to create a more family-friendly city.

Over the last four years, they have moved well beyond parenting support. Now they are involved in networking, advocacy, research, consultancy to local programs, and project planning and implementation.

PAGE parents say they have a greater sense of belonging and increased confidence. Many went on to get full time jobs for the first time; others became volunteers; some set up small businesses or started tertiary study.

A full list of the successful Communities for Children sites is available at FaHCSIA website