Media Release by The Hon Larry Anthony MP

30 per cent increase to Family Relationships Program and re-evaluation of the child support scheme

¬†As part of the Australian Government’s response to the House of Representatives Standing Committee inquiry into child custody arrangements, funding for the Family Relationships Program will increase by 30 per cent, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Larry Anthony said today.

Mr Anthony welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement today of an immediate increase in funding for this program that is delivering real support to families right across Australia.

“In recognition of the important work that Family Relationships programs do for Australian families, the Australian Government will immediately increase funding from $54 million to $69 million in

“Programs to receive additional funding include counselling, mediation and conciliation services, Childrens’ Contact Services, family relationships and pre-marriage education and skills training, the Contact Orders Program and the Men and Family Relationships Program, including MensLine.

“These services are vitally important in the early intervention and prevention of family separation. Where families do separate, they have an important role in reducing stress and minimising the conflict that can be involved.

“The Prime Minister’s announcement today also recognises the difficult circumstances some grandparents find themselves in relation to their legal standing with regard to their grandchildren.

“The Australian Government will propose changes to the Family Law Act to highlight the role of grandparents and introduce changes to their access to legal aid.

“I will be taking immediate steps to establish a Child Support Taskforce to report back by March 2005 on a comprehensive re-evaluation of the child support scheme. I will announce the details of membership and terms of reference of the Taskforce shortly.

“What is in the best interests of children in the event of family separation has been central to the inquiry and also in the Government’s response. When a family does separate, the needs of their children have to be paramount.

“The additional support for services that support family relationships will go a long way to build more resilient families and minimise conflict,” Mr Anthony said