Media Release by The Hon Larry Anthony MP

Government committed to early intervention and prevention

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Larry Anthony today reaffirmed the Federal Government’s commitment to early intervention and prevention approaches for children at risk.

Mr Anthony was responding to Mission Australia’s call for the Government to implement a national early intervention and prevention program.

“There is compelling evidence on the importance of investing in the early years of a child’s life. The links between what happens to children when they are young and their future wellbeing are undeniable.

“The Government makes a significant investment through the Stronger Families and Communities Strategy, Early Intervention Parenting Projects, Family Relationships Services Program and the Men and Family Relationships initiative, amongst others, to strengthen and support Australian families.

“State and Territory Governments also have an important role to play as they have primary responsibility for delivering child protection services. Many have statewide programs, such as Families First in New South Wales.

“It is difficult to directly compare Australia to other countries. Constitutionally, there are big differences in the way Government services are delivered. However, there is much to be learnt from overseas experiences.

“I have previously acknowledged that current approaches to investment in the early years by all Governments is ad hoc at best. There are significant gaps and overlaps in service provision and we don’t link or coordinate as well as we should.

“That is why we are developing a National Agenda for Early Childhood that will focus whole of Government approaches to early child and maternal health, early learning and care and supporting child-friendly communities.

“The Government is developing a framework for the National Agenda which will identify objectives and priorities within the key areas. The framework will also articulate the roles and responsibilities of Governments and non-Government stakeholders.

“I will be consulting with stakeholders on developing the National Agenda in the new year and I look forward to Mission Australia’s input into that process.

“Early childhood development and experiences affect educational outcomes, career prospects, health outcomes, avoiding reliance on welfare, substance misuse, and becoming entangled in the criminal justice system. If we can give our children a better start, we all stand to benefit,” Mr Anthony said.