With the number of children in Australia in Out of Home Care on the rise, it has never been more important for the government and social services in Australia, particularly in Victoria, to strengthen their investment in the out-of-home care system. This will help address the urgent need to ensure the wellbeing and safety of the most vulnerable children & youth. This notion has been supported after several reports revealed the current issues faced by Victoria’s child protection and out-of-home care. Emma King, CEO of VCOSS highlighted the importance of the increased investment “we commend the State Government for moving quickly to increase investment in our out-of-home care system…the $19 million investment will provide additional staff and supervision so children and young people in care are safer”.
To make this issue a more frightening reality, the Productivity Commission Review of Government Services revealed that in Victoria alone, there was an increase in reports of child abuse and neglect to 82,000 in the last year. Due to these astonishing figures, the alarm bells are once again sounding for the need for increased funding and implementation of child protection services to combat these rates of abuse and provide a safe environment for these kids. More specifically the report revealed the growing amount of Indigenous children on care and protection orders remains excessively high and rising. The statistics paint a grim picture for the Indigenous youth, as they are now 12 times more likely to be in out-of-home care than non-indigenous children.
Therefore this new funding is crucial platform for the safety and protection of youth in Australia. It can almost be seen as a down payment for improving the future for vulnerable children in the greatest need of support, and is a good indication that the government is prepared to listen and act in their interests. With this new funding arrangement social services nationally are jumping for joy as the government is increasing its engagement and collaboration with the community sector in order to ensure all children have a better life and safer environment to grow up in.
The most specific work and funding arrangements seems to be happening in Victoria, with the recent Victoria government reforms setting out a report known as the ‘Protecting Victoria’s Vulnerable Children Inquiry’ which sets out new approaches for vulnerable and how their families can help. This report includes programs, funding and infrastructure to ensure children’s safety, support for parents and carers and providing a voice for children. To find out more about the Pathways for Vulnerable Children and the changes being made to funding arrangements check out the Victoria Government’s ‘shared responsibility strategy’ click here.
The upcoming conference here at criterion ‘Pathways for Vulnerable Children’ will bring the leaders in the field who are reforming the systems to improve quality of care for children. One such speaker is Dr John Simmonds from the British Association for Adoption and Fostering, whose contribution to the safety and care of children has been established through development of policy and practice in social work, health, the law and research. His research is creating the bigger picture and a key understanding for social services as to how to provide child protection, family placements and quality residential care settings for children.