‘Historic’ plans to combat child abuse and neglect
The federal government on Tuesday released two national 10-year child protection action plans, prepared in collaboration with state and territory governments.
A specific plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families has been developed in consultation with First Nations communities and representative groups.
The blueprints agree on a national approach to empowering the sector’s workforce and improving targeted support for children.
There will also be more investment in First Nations communities to support family support services and child protection.
Minister for Indigenous Australia Linda Burney described the launch of the Action Plans as a historic moment in protecting Australia’s children.
“The number of First Nations children removed from families remains out of control. It’s so high and alarming and needs to go down,” she told reporters in Canberra.
“First Nations people have the answers and need to lead the way on policies and programs that affect us.”
Ms Burney said the government’s planned referendum on an Indigenous vote in Parliament would help solve problems such as child neglect and abuse.
“That’s what a voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is all about, to ensure that community voices are heard in all sectors of government,” she said.
“[We will]finally get the best guidance for solving complex and difficult problems, and we all know how complex and how difficult they are.”
Social Services Secretary Amanda Rishworth said the action plans focus on priority groups who are disadvantaged or vulnerable and are over-represented in Australia’s child protection system.
Ms Rishworth said the system will be redesigned to focus on early intervention and prevent numbers of children from even entering care.
“These action plans grew out of a meticulous approach focused on engagement, empowerment and embedding the voice of children and people with lived experience,” she said.
“While our goal will always be that children do not need child safeguarding measures, we also want to ensure that when they do, the solutions are child-centred and supported by their voices.”
The government allocated $30 million in the federal budget for five initiatives.
National Coalition on Child Safety and Wellbeing Chair Jamie Crosby said the safety and wellbeing of Australian children should be the most compelling national priority.
“It’s hard to believe that the number of children and young people in legal care or in child protection systems more broadly continues to increase,” he said.
“The over-representation of First Nations children and youth is heartbreaking.
“Powerful partnerships and ongoing collaboration between all parties are fundamental to achieve real change and improve the lives and safety of children and young people.”