ACWA’s Budget Response

NSW Child and Family Peak Bodies Urge Government to Divert Funds to Family Preservation Initiatives

While the recent NSW budget received a collective tick of approval from the community and social services sector, ACWA is joining its fellow children and family state peak bodies, AbSec and Fams, in calling for the Government to reconsider the significant funds allocated to bolster internal departmental capacities.

‘This government is clearly committed to improving and addressing chronic and long-term disadvantage; however, we’re concerned that the opportunity to carry out the urgent reform needed to drastically reduce the number of children in care, will be missed,” expressed Maree Walk, CEO of ACWA.

‘We are concerned at the $220 million that DCJ are investing in their own systems around care services instead of investing in programs that will help families address any issues they’re facing.”

The goal of ACWA and its member agencies—all registered NGO’s—is to keep children out of the care system—or at least with extended family, which is especially critical for Aboriginal families.

Closing the Gap emphasises that Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCO’s) are the best agencies to manage all cases in relation to both family preservation situations and for children facing out­of-home care arrangements.

“ACCO’s are actively trying to recruit and train more family carers to support the transition of Aboriginal children from non-Aboriginal agencies, with extra funds desperately needed to deliver on these important outcomes,” continued Ms Walk.

Aboriginal Transition measures were further endorsed by several papers presented at the recent ACWA Conference, with the mounting evidence solidifying the notion that Aboriginal children will thrive and prosper when connected to their culture and extended kinship support.

John Leha, CEO of AbSec, stated in a statement published last week that:

“It is incredibly disappointing, sending money in exactly the wrong direction, and the fact this comes immediately after a scathing report from the NSW Audit Office, demanding a reorientation of the child protection system, is frankly quite insulting.”

In response to other funding announcements, Ms Walk expressed her enthusiasm for the uplift in public housing and support for domestic violence in this budget.

"To thrive, families need housing security and safety as a minimum and we are so pleased to see the significant increases in supply of public housing, homelessness services and giving priority to mothers and children fleeing domestic violence."

"We’re hopeful these initiatives really help keep families out of the child protection system and care system," said Ms Walk.

It is a year of reform for the child protection and out-of-home care area and ACWA looks forward to working with government and our community based colleagues to truly make a difference to vulnerable children and families.