Early family intervention the most effective way to address national child protection crisis

Monday 10 February

Earlier interventions are needed to help families stay together and better protect children, Anglicare Victoria CEO Paul McDonald said following the release of the final report today by Australian National Children’s Commissioner Megan Mitchell.

Mr McDonald said it was obvious to anyone working towards improving the wellbeing of children and young people that business as usual isn’t working.

“This report shows that we are failing to provide the best possible start in life for our children and young people. The number of those being raised by the state is up by 18 per cent, and one in six children is living in poverty. Perhaps most concerning is that despite an encouraging national conversation about family violence in recent years, instances of abuse and neglect are up by 25 per cent,” Mr McDonald said.

“The child protection system is focussed on intervening in family problems after they have reached crisis point. Not only does it become a forensic investigation about what happened when and to whom, but it comes too late to address and prevent these problems.

“Placing greater attention on keeping families together safely is the best approach in the majority of cases. Rather than trying to pick up the pieces when everything has broken down, we can have a much more positive impact by working earlier and more persistently with families to improve relationships and provide them with targeted support when they need it most. Functional family units are the strongest asset we have to tackle many of these issues.

“Anglicare Victoria supports Ms Mitchell’s push to develop a national plan for child wellbeing, as well as a dedicated federal Cabinet Minister to deal with these issues. At the moment we are letting down the next generation who we have promised to care for,” he said.

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