Family support programs

Minister’s Statement

I rise to update the house on how the Andrews Labor government is delivering more support for vulnerable families at risk of becoming involved with child protection or out-of-home care. Yesterday I announced a further $11.2 million over two years for evidence-based innovative programs that support vulnerable families. This builds on the $6.1 million I announced in January this year for evidence-based trials.

Just earlier this week Four Corners showcased one of the programs which we are supporting. It showed three families, one in Rosebud West undertaking the SafeCare program run by OzChild, which provides parents with children aged up to five with at-home parent training sessions to reduce the risk of child maltreatment.

We know that every parent needs support at some stage, so it is crucial that we get in early to support those in need with programs that are backed by experts and those who work in the field. Other programs to be delivered through this investment include an Australian-first multisystemic therapy psychology program to be delivered in West Melbourne and the Barwon region, which provides intensive at-home treatment and 24/7 crisis response targeting children aged between nine and 15 who are at risk of removal or in care due to dysfunction, trauma or other issues.

The Functional Family Therapy program is to be delivered in the Loddon region, which is aimed at families with kids aged up to 17 where there has been child protection involvement, and Promoting First Relationships is to be delivered in north-east Melbourne, which is a 10-week relationship-building program aimed at increasing a parent or caregiver’s awareness of their child’s needs. There are many other programs being funded, and I congratulate each of the agencies involved in this initiative.

This is the first time a Victorian government has invested in these types of evidence-based programs, and this investment is helping to deliver on our government’s Roadmap for Reform, shifting the focus from crisis response to early intervention and prevention, because we know that if we provide this early intervention through these types of programs we will strengthen families and provide a safe and stable home for their children and make sure that we can reduce their interaction with the statutory system. I also congratulate the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare, which will provide implementation support to embed these evidence-based approaches, for partnering with my department in relation to these initiatives.