ACWA member organisations enjoyed a positive and constructive first meeting with Families, Communities and Disability Services Minister, Gareth Ward, when he visited ACWA in May.
More than 50 agency representatives turned out to ACWA’s ‘Meet and Greet’ event to hear the newly appointed Minister speak about his priorities for the sector, and to discuss how the non-government sector can work with government to ensure that, together, we are able to achieve the best possible outcomes for vulnerable children, young people and families in NSW.
In his opening address, Minister Ward signalled an eager interest in hearing more from member agencies about their frontline work, and the responses they are seeking from him that will enhance their efforts.
“The amount of passion I see in this sector is enormous,” Minister Ward said.
“The thing that I can do as Minister is to be there as a servant to this sector to support you, to make sure you’re not getting blockages from government, and to ensure that you’re receiving the support, responsiveness and the care that each and everyone of you deserves.”
The Minister then fielded a series of questions and comments from the floor, which covered a range of topics including:
- Bolstering early intervention services for children who have experienced domestic and family violence.
- Sharing data to support early decision-making.
- Enhancing cultural responses to better meet the needs of Aboriginal communities.
- Enhancing cultural responses to better meet the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities.
- Addressing NDIS funding to ensure children in care have access to quality services that meet their disability needs.
- Potential opportunities for the non-government sector to work collaboratively with State and Federal governments to better support vulnerable families and children.
- Extending the age of leaving care from 18 to 21.
Members also took the opportunity to highlight business and practice issues arising from the implementation of the new ChildStory system, and from the transition of services to the Permanency Support Program more broadly.
Minister Ward indicated he would share this critical feedback with FACS Secretary Michael Coutts-Trotter, with the intention of seeking timely solutions. He also stressed that he wants to hear from members regularly to keep him abreast of emerging issues that may be affecting service delivery and the non-government sector as a whole.
More details from the day’s discussion can be obtained in the Minutes from the meeting. A letter from Minister Ward outlining his responses to some of the questions and comments posed by member representatives on the day is also available for viewing, together with a table containing additional responses from FACS.
ACWA extends our thanks to Minister Ward for taking time out to meet and speak with our members. We look forward to collaborating and working together on future initiatives and strategies that will make life better for the most vulnerable in our community.