Wyong and the Riverina to help Government provide more flexible children’s services
Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Larry Anthony, and NSW Minister for Community Services, Carmel Tebbutt, today announced the next stage in the Flexible Child and Family Models Project.
The Australian Department of Family and Community Services (FaCS) and the NSW Department of Community Services (DoCS) are working together on the project which will help them deliver child and family services to better meet the needs of families.
“We know that families can sometimes experience difficulties finding and accessing children’s services, and for a range of reasons services sometimes find it difficult to deliver programs that really meet the needs of the local people,” Mr Anthony said.
“In early 2004 our Departments will start the consultation phase of the project in Wyong. Officers in the area will be talking to local families, service providers, local councils, government and non-government organisations to find out what’s working best now, and where things could be done differently to get better outcomes. Communities will play a key role in this project, and will be actively involved at every stage.
“We have chosen the Wyong and the Riverina areas for the pilots because they have a high percentage of children aged under five years – nearly 10 per cent of the population, compared with 8.5 per cent for the whole of NSW. Having both rural and urban locations also allows us to explore the different issues that affect these communities,” Mr Anthony said.
Efforts will be focussed initially on the community of Blue Haven/San Remo in Wyong with a number of local organisations and agencies keen to work on this project. This location also has the highest population of children in the Wyong Local Government Authority, where nearly 19 per cent of the local population is aged between 0-10 years, compared to around 15 per cent for the whole of NSW.
“This project supports research into the early years of life which emphasises that the quality of experiences in early childhood is crucial to a child’s future. Research clearly indicates that childcare services have the potential to play a key role during these early years in supporting children and families, and can be of particular assistance in reaching and assisting families who may need additional support,” Ms Tebbutt said.
“The challenge is to support education, health and social welfare services to become more integrated, more flexible and comprehensive to respond to each family’s unique needs.
“Research shows that many parents use a patchwork of services for the care and education of their young families and the community is increasingly demanding high quality programs for their children and greater flexibility from services. It is vital for parents to be able to access the kinds of child and family services they need, in the ways that they need them.
“All levels of government need to work together to support this process in order to strengthen our families and communities – no single agency can do it alone. This is why we are both committed to working collaboratively in order to establish and then evaluate different approaches to providing the kind of flexible, integrated child and family service models that really respond to community needs,” Ms Tebbutt.