Anglicare Victoria has joined with the state’s peak family services body to call for the next state government to put $400 million towards supporting children and their parents.
The Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare’s chief executive officer Deb Tsorbaris said 120,000 child protection notifications were made each year in Victoria, and 10,500 children were in care.
The number of notifications to child protection and the number of children entering care only continued to climb, she said.
Ms Tsorbaris said the state needed an investment of $100 million per year in integrated family services for the next four years, to “help parents be the best parents they can be”.
Such an investment could significantly cut the number of children entering care and coming to the attention of child protection services.
For some parents, she said, missing out on family support services resulted in their children entering care.
Anglicare Victoria regional director Francis Lynch said it was important parents had support available before significant issues arose.
He said support services helped parents understand not only how to keep their children safe, but be a good, nurturing parent.
“It’s helping people to move from being in survival mode to thriving,” Mr Lynch said.
He said service levels in the region were currently adequate, but the numbers of referrals were increasing.
Population increase was one reason, Mr Lynch said, but drug and alcohol issues and mental health concerns had also risen in some parts of the population, putting some children at greater risk.
But Ms Tsorbaris said there were already service providers in regional Victoria experiencing levels of demand they could not meet, with some having waiting lists of 200 families.
She said investment in services in regional and rural areas was not as high as in metropolitan areas.
Mr Lynch said investment such as that requested by Anglicare Victoria and the Centre for Excellence was “money well spent”, because children had better outcomes when their parents were better equipped.
Ms Tsorbaris also said parents empowered to best care for the children led to benefits in many other areas, including education and employment.
”We know that it has an impact and a flow-on effect to everything,” Ms Tsorbaris said.
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