Women, children and gender equity

A VCOSS guide to what’s being funded, what’s missing out and where the 2019 budget might take Victoria.

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The 2019/2020 Budget continues to invest in children and families, with ongoing funding provided to implement the new kinship care model piloted in 2018.

The Victorian Government has also delivered on its election commitment to support parents and families by committing funding to build seven new Early Parenting Centres and upgrade two existing parenting centre facilities; and provide baby bundles, parent groups and deliver first aid training for new parents.

A revamped 24-hour Maternal Child Health Line will help promote the health and wellbeing of children and families. Alongside the introduction of a new payroll tax exemption for all parents who access paid parental leave, this will help foster strong, nurturing families and improve children’s social, emotional, physical and cognitive development.

As at 1 January 2019, 120 of the 227 recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family Violence have now been delivered.  An unprecedented level of funding has been injected into the sector over the last three budgets, with 2019/2020 containing new funding to promote behaviour change of perpetrators, grow the family violence service delivery workforce and strengthen family violence and sexual assault therapeutic supports.

 

Positive initiatives for children, young people and families

Kinship Care

Ongoing funding for the new model of kinship care piloted in 2018. This includes providing dedicated kinship care workers, and helping reunify families.
$25.2m in 2019/20 ($106.4m/4 years)

 

Aboriginal kinship finding service*                      

Funding is provided for new model of kinship care to strengthen Aboriginal children’s connection with family, culture and community including an Aboriginal kinship finding service
$2.4m in 2019/20 ($10.1m/4 years)

 

Case management by Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations*            

The 2019/20 budget funds services and support for Aboriginal children and families involved in the child protection system to remain connected to their culture through continued transition of case management of Aboriginal children in care to Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations.
$5.6m in 2019/20 ($13.6m/2 years)

 

Support for new Victorian mums and dads 

Seven new early parenting will be established in Ballarat, Bendigo, Casey, Frankston, Geelong, Whittlesea and Wyndham. Tweddle Child and Family Health Service and the Queen Elizabeth Centre will be refurbished. Around 35,000 new parents will receive a baby bundle and up to 7,000 vulnerable new families will receive extra home-based sleep support.
$27.1m in 2019/20 ($189.5m/4 years)

 

Progressing the children and families reform agenda                                                                   

There is funding for the continued reform of the child and family services sector including continuing trials of three innovative new models of out of home care: Treatment Foster Care Oregon, Keep Embracing Your Success (KEYS), Sibling Support and Placement Service. Continued support for Care Leaver support groups and advocacy.
$13.4m in 2019/20 ($23m/2 years)

 

Supporting vulnerable children in need                                                                              

Funding to meet demand for care of children who are unable to live with their families. Further support provided to children with significant disability who require residential care or facility-based care placement (which is not currently covered by the NDIS)
$26.9m in 2019/20 ($41m/2 years)

 

Better assisting children in the statutory child protection system                                           

Expansion of the child protection workforce to meet the expanded mandatory reporting of child physical and sexual abuse to groups such as early childhood workers, youth justice workers and registered psychologists.
$7.5m in 2019/20 ($30m/4 years)

 

Civil claims costs for historical institutional child abuse                                                                               

Management and settlement of civil claims for historical institutional child abuse with additional funding provided to meet forecast liabilities.
$20m in 2019/20

 

Commission for Children and Young People                                                                      

Continued funding for the Commission for Children and Young People.
$3.9m in 2019/20 ($16.2m/4 years)

 

Supporting young people*                                                                        

Funding initiatives to help connect vulnerable young people from African and Pasifika backgrounds to their community, as well as education and employment opportunities.
$6m in 2019/20

 

Marram Nganyin Aboriginal youth mentoring program                                                                

Aboriginal organisations are being funded to deliver targeted youth mentoring programs to support and empower Aboriginal young people.
$0.4m in 2019/20

 

Positive initiatives for family violence services and crisis support

Dhelk Dja: Aboriginal 10 Year Family Violence Plan*

The Victorian Government is funding the operation of three Aboriginal Orange Door access points, and to expand frontline Aboriginal family violence services.
$4.5m in 2019/20 ($28.8m/4 years)

 

Family violence and sexual assault therapeutic supportspecialised support for Aboriginal Victorians*

This budget is funding the expansion of specialised therapeutic support services for Aboriginal Victorians who are victims of family violence and sexual assault.
$1.5m in 2019/20 ($8.7m/4 years)

 

Koori Women’s Place*                                                                

Funding is provided for the continuation of the Koori Women’s Place to provide culturally appropriate family violence services to Aboriginal women.
$0.6m in 2019/20 ($2.4m/4 years)

 

Perpetrator responses                                                                 

There is welcome new funding to promote behaviour change of perpetrators through behavioural change programs, intensive engagement of perpetrators with complex needs and extending a pilot of the Caring Dads program
$22.5m in 2019/20 ($85m/4 years)

 

Building from Strength: 10 year Industry Plan for Family Violence Prevention and Response

There is one year of funding to continue to grow the family violence service delivery workforce including practical placements for students under the Industry Plan for Family Violence Prevention and Response.
$3.1m in 2019/20

 

Everybody Matters: Inclusion and Equity                                                                            

Funding to strengthen family violence responses for people with disability in Orange Doors. Rainbow Tick accreditation scheme will continue to be rolled out across all family violence services to support LGBTI victim survivors.
$0.9m in 2019/20 ($5.8m/4 years)

 

Family violence and sexual assault therapeutic support                                                                              

Additional funding to continue therapeutic support for victims of family violence and sexual assault including new therapeutic approaches for women with and children with disabilities.
$3.3m in 2019/20 ($12.3m/4 years)

 

Family Violence refuge and crisis case management response*                              

Case management for family violence victim survivors will continue with support expanded to provide 24/7 access to women’s refuges, additional places in redeveloped refuges and support for victim survivors in emergency accommodation.  Funding will also be provided to continue to support family violence victim survivors to install CCTV cameras in the Centre Against Violence women’s refuge in Victoria’s north east, for family violence specialist counselling in Wodonga and Wangaratta, and for family violence counselling services and an upgrade of crisis accommodation in Horsham.
$6.9m in 2019/20 ($24m/4 years)

 

Further strategies

A number of further strategies needed in future years which could bring significant benefits for children, young people, families and people experiencing family violence. VCOSS will be advocating for these initiatives over the coming year, in the lead up to the 2020/21 Victorian Budget.

 

Continue to invest in industry and workforce development

While there was one year of funding for the Building from Strength: 10 year Industry Plan for Family Violence Prevention and Response, there needs to be sustained investment over the long term to ensure that the family violence response and prevention workforce can grow and meet demand. All workforces that intersect with family violence will need continued capability development to prevent, intervene early and respond to family violence once it occurs.

 

Fund foster and kinship carers fairly by increasing the basic carer allowance and indexing it to prices

Over 10,000 children in Victoria are living in out-of-home care. Foster and kinship carers provide temporary care to children and young people who are unable to live with their birth parents. Currently, more than a third of foster and kinship carers in Victoria struggle to cover basic costs, such as housing, food, clothing, utilities, furniture, transport, leisure and personal care.

The Victorian Government should immediately increase the level one and level two basic carer allowance by $70 per week and peg it to inflation. This will help Victorian carers cover children’s basic living costs and build a safe, supportive and sustainable home environment.

 

Provide enduring, coordinated resources for family violence prevention

Victoria’s blueprint to combat the problem of family violence and violence against women, Free From Violence focuses on preventing violence before it starts by focussing on the settings where inequality and violence behaviour are shaped. Gender Equity Victoria has called for 10 per cent of family violence funding to go towards prevention. The Victorian Government should ensure that funds are provided to support existing family violence prevention work, like Partners in Prevention, and recurrent funding is provided to the Office of Women and Respect Victoria to ensure successful implementation of the strategy and First Action Plan.

 

Ensure every young care leaver is supported until they are 21

The Victorian Government has invested $11.6 million over five years to roll out Home Stretch, to allow 250 more young people the chance to stay in care until the age of 21.

VCOSS believes the same opportunity should be extended to the approximately 500 young people leaving out-of-home care each year. Extending the support available to all young care-leavers until they are 21 will help ensure they have the skills and educational opportunities to succeed in life.

 

Fund dedicated supports for parents with disability

Many people with disability face discriminatory attitudes and beliefs about their parenting capacity, creating barriers to starting a family and affecting the parenting support they receive.

Like all parents, parents with disability need some important basic supports – including stable housing, adequate income, and a social support network – and may also need specialised supports.

The Victorian Government should establish an evidence-based program for parents with disability to help support their parenting across their child’s life – from pregnancy into their child’s adulthood.  The program should take into account the needs and wellbeing of individuals and the family as a whole, provide opportunities for parents to connect, and be available for families long-term.

More VCOSS analysis
Read the VCOSS media release
Watch the VCOSS Treasurer's Breakfast
Real Spending Changes Table