Australia owes real change and reform for at-risk children, assistant minister says

By Melissa Coade

March 11, 2022

Michelle Landry, Australia’s assistant minister for children and families, for all kids to thrive and be healthy adequate family support must be available.
Michelle Landry, Australia’s assistant minister for children and families. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

Michelle Landry has spoken of the need for what is required to ‘secure change that is real’ to lift the outcomes of vulnerable Australian children with stronger partnerships and early interventions.

“Unfortunately in Australia, the rates of children in child safety remains far too high. We know that no single government, idea or service can be the solution — a unified approach is what is needed,” Landry said.

“Of course, this will be a huge challenge but I’m confident that together we can do it.”

The assistant minister for children and families made her remarks at a Child Protection Symposium on Thursday.

In the virtual address, Landry said a 10-year national framework for protecting Australia’s children, released by the government last December, offered a template to deliver stronger partnerships, more targeted resources, and robust early support options for families in need. 

The report also focused on ways to deliver a more sustainable child protection workforce including a strategy to attract and support more frontline staff, non-parent carers, and kinship carers.

“The ‘Safe and Supported’ [framework] is a crucial piece of work that we have been developing with the states and territories, as well as Indigenous leaders and the families sector.

“It sets out a 10-year Framework for how every level of government, and the non-government sector, will work together to achieve major, long-term progress in reducing the rates of child abuse in our nation. Importantly, it will also seek to address neglect, and the impacts that this can cause across generations,” Landry said.  

The outcomes of the framework will be delivered by two five-year action plans and will feature ways to improve outcomes for children living in out-of-home care, children living with a disability, and cultural connections for Indigenous children and families (including strengthening the Aboriginal Child Placement Principle).

Another action plan for at-risk Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children will focus on driving down the over‑representation of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care by 45%, by 2031. 

Landry said that as part of a wider $98 million federal pledge for initiatives to meet the out-of-home target, financing would be available to help empower the community controlled sector and deliver evidence-based solutions for frontline services.

“We know that the challenges facing vulnerable kids are complex. They are difficult to address. And they are often firmly entrenched in many of our communities.

“To help break these cycles, families need to be able to access support early, so that issues they face can be addressed before they escalate. Things like mental health, drugs and alcohol, domestic violence and unemployment are all part of this, and so I’m pleased to say that the new framework puts these risks front and centre,” she said. 

The Connect for Safety child protection agency information-sharing platform was another recent innovation the assistant minister said was working effectively thanks to the cooperation of all states and territories. 

“By allowing child protection agencies to share vital information for kids when they move across state borders, it has addressed a crucial gap that was previously seeing vulnerable children fall through the cracks,” Landry said. 


READ MORE:

Family support vital for children’s wellbeing, Landry says

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