I rise to inform the house about what the Andrews Labor government is doing to keep vulnerable Victorian children safe. There is nothing more important than protecting our kids, and that is why we are making the biggest ever investment in our child and family services system to ensure that children are kept safe and vulnerable families receive the support that they need. The Andrews Labor government will invest an unprecedented $858 million in the Victorian budget this year to continue the transformation of Victoria’s children and family services system through the Roadmap for Reform, moving it from crisis response to prevention and early intervention.
The budget includes $225.5 million to employ more than 450 child protection workers, the largest ever expansion of the workforce. As a result the workforce has already grown by 36.4 per cent since November 2014. There is a continued focus on placing children who need to go into out-of-home care with a loving family, with $390.7 million for more home-based care placements and support for carers, including a new kinship-care model and Australian first reforms such as professionalised foster care. Additional targeted care packages to transition children out of residential care programs to keep siblings together and help young people leaving care are also funded.
Parents, especially those with young kids, will get the extra help they need much earlier with a $101.7 million investment in family services and other early intervention programs, including Child First. A $47.3 million investment will go towards supporting Aboriginal families and children, including cultural planning and the Australian-first Aboriginal Children in Aboriginal Care program, which enables Aboriginal community controlled organisations to take on legal guardianship of Aboriginal children in care. A $49.9 million boost will fund more therapeutic counselling for victim survivors of family violence and provide women and children with more flexible support packages for relocation costs, furniture, clothing or security measures.
Victim survivors of sexual assault will also get more access to counselling support, and more adolescent family violence programs will also be established. The recently passed child information sharing legislation is supported by $43.4 million across government to ensure staff can be trained in how best to share information to promote the wellbeing and safety of children.
The Andrews Labor government will not ignore the needs of vulnerable children and families in Victoria, and we will continue to innovate and invest to address the disadvantage that they suffer and most importantly to ensure that all Victorian children can be safe.