Media Release by The Hon Larry Anthony MP

Working together to protect our children

 Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Larry Anthony, today welcomed the contribution made by Families Australia on how best to address the problem of child abuse and neglect in Australian communities.

“The increasing incidence of child abuse and neglect is a worrying trend and one that should deeply concern all Australians.

“The administration of child protection is the responsibility of the State and Territory Governments and they are clearly finding it a difficult area to address. None have been able to reverse the trend of increasing numbers of substantiated child abuse cases.

“I will always welcome any considered contribution on how we can better protect Australian children. However, it should be recognised that the Australian Government is already acting on a number of the issues raised by Families Australia. (A table of Families Australia recommendations and Australian Government action is attached)

“Aside from these specific initiatives, the Australian Government also provides significant support and assistance to Australian families through social security and record amounts of family assistance. Last financial year, the Government committed around $19 billion to a range of family payments.

“We have also developed a range of early intervention and prevention strategies to assist families before they hit rock bottom such as the Stronger Families and Communities Strategy, Men and Family Relationships program and the Child Abuse Prevention Program.

“The Prime Minister also recently announced an additional $10 million from the Stronger Families and Communities Strategy for early childhood intervention and prevention programs to be developed under the National Agenda for Early Childhood. These programs will focus on early child and maternal health, early learning and care, and supporting child-friendly communities.

“This includes $1 million to Australian’s Against Child Abuse for their information campaign and parenting seminars, Every Child is Important. This project was initially funded for work in Victoria and Tasmania and this additional funding will bring the campaign to all other States and Territories.

“However, there is no doubt that more needs to be done by all stakeholders to ensure the safety of our children. Questions of why and how child abuse and neglect occurs are not simple to answer.

“If we are to make any progress on this issue we need to recognise that child protection is not an issue owned by Governments. We all have a responsibility to care and protect our children and young people,” Mr Anthony said.

Families Australia recommendation What the Australian Government is already doing
1. Establish a National Strategy for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect. The commitment to develop a National Agenda for Early Childhood is an important step towards better co-ordinating early intervention and prevention approaches to ensure all Australian children have the best possible start to life.
2. Establish a National Regional Network of Family Centres to link families to local services. The Prime Minister recently announced funding for 12 child care neighbourhood hub centres as one of the first practical steps under the National Agenda. Family Links Officers will be located within child care services in disadvantaged areas to link families to services and resources.
3. Establish an Inter-Departmental Committee to review federal programs with links to child abuse prevention. The Australian Government already established the Interdepartmental Taskforce on Child Development, Health and Wellbeing. Its primary focus is the development of the National Agenda for Early Childhood.
4. Build on the work of the National Plan for Foster Children and their Carers It was the Australian Government who got the States and Territories together to discuss the development of a National Plan. At the last Ministerial Council meeting, Ministers agreed to consult with community stakeholders in the key areas of improved training, uniform data collection, research, and improving support for children and their carers.
5. Explore mechanisms to ensure the ‘voices’ of children in out-of-home care and their carers are heard. We have funded COTA National Seniors $150,000 to run a series of forums to look at the issues facing grandparents who care for their grandchildren.