Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children

Joint Media Release with:

  • Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister

The Australian Government is providing $61.6 million over four years to help protect Australia’s vulnerable children from child abuse and neglect under the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020.

The Council of Australian Governments today endorsed the National Framework, an ambitious, long-term national approach to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of Australian children.

Protecting children at risk demands national leadership and a coordinated national response. All children deserve a safe, healthy and happy childhood.

Actions under the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children are a significant investment by the Australian Government.

It is a key element of the Government’s child-centred approach to family policy where children’s best interests are the driving force of policy making.

Key National Leadership Projects

The Australian Government is demonstrating national leadership by providing $10 million over four years to key projects to support the development of evidence based and continuous improvement in services to protect children.

This includes the development of ambitious National Standards for Out-of-Home Care. National Standards will ensure that all children who cannot be cared for by their parents receive the quality care and support they need for their wellbeing now, and into the future.

National benchmarks will drive enhanced national consistency and lead to significant improvements in the quality of out-of-home care over time.

In addition the Australian Government will lead:

  • A National Research Agenda for Child Protection which will ensure governments and non-government organisations deliver the best possible support to vulnerable children and families.
  • Improved information sharing and data consistency to improve our understanding of children at risk of harm and ensure that vulnerable children and their families do not fall between the cracks.
  • Workforce development projects including training and professional resources and tools to improve the capacity of all services working with families and children to identify children at risk early and respond appropriately.

Communities for Children Plus

The Australian Government will provide $10 million over four years to establish up to eight innovative integrated service delivery sites across Australia to reduce child abuse and neglect in disadvantaged communities.

Building on the success of Communities for Children, this measure will provide intensive early intervention services to an additional 1,200 children and families over four years in their local community.

Communities for Children Plus will bring Australian, and State and Territory Government services together to address the risk factors for child abuse and neglect before they escalate. This could include parenting support, mental health, drug and alcohol, family violence and housing services, as well as child protection services if required.

Enhanced access to quality child care for children at risk

The Australian Government is providing $36.6 million over four years to enhance access to quality child care for Australia’s most vulnerable children through increased take-up of the Special Child Care Benefit. The Special Child Care Benefit covers the full cost of child care for children at serious risk of abuse or neglect.

Increased assistance for young people leaving care

From 1 July 2009, the Government will increase the Transition to Independent Living Allowance for young people leaving care from $1,000 to $1,500 at a cost of $5 million over four years.

The Transition to Independent Living Allowance provides practical one-off support for young people leaving care to assist with the costs associated with independent living such as moving, furniture, education or transport costs.

In addition, the Australian Government is refocusing $3.1 million each year under the Strengthening Families Program (part of the National Illicit Drugs Strategy) to provide focused parenting and substance abuse support where children are at risk. Current contracts have been extended to April 2010.

This is part of the significant focus on early intervention and prevention programs through the Family Support Program which currently provides $1.2 billion over four years to support vulnerable and disadvantaged families, and separated and separating parents and their children.

The National Framework is an election commitment and was developed in consultation with States and Territories and the Coalition of Organisations Committed to the Safety and Wellbeing of Australia’s Children.