The Palaszczuk Government today announced $150 million over five years for community-run services to better support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities.
Treasurer and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Curtis Pitt announced the funding with Minister for Child Safety Shannon Fentiman at the launch of Queensland’s first Family and Child Connect service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families in North Brisbane.
Treasurer Pitt said the investment would go towards establishing new community-run Family Wellbeing Services, which are vital to addressing over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the child protection system.
“The number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who end up in the child protection system is unacceptable. It is nothing short of a crisis and we must work earlier and better with families,” Mr Pitt said.
“That’s why we‘ve prioritised funding for these services because we know that we need to do more to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities.
“We need to radically re-think how we work with families and communities so children can be safe at home which means we will work with them on a bigger, bolder, community-led approach to dealing with complex Indigenous disadvantage.
“We recognise that community-controlled services that focus on cultural knowledge and understanding are central to improving children’s safety, wellbeing, belonging, identity and participation in community life.”
The first new Wellbeing Services will be rolled out in September in areas of great need – Roma, Mackay, South Burnett and Moreton Bay – with further services across 19 locations to be fully operational in 2017.
Minister Fentiman said that by 2018, Wellbeing Services will offer practical support to over 6,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to help build their capacity to safely care for their children.
“I’m delighted to be here today at this Family and Child Connect service which is a wonderful step in the right direction — and of course people will be able to access the new Wellbeing Services from a range of referral points, including this very facility here in Zillmere,” Ms Fentiman said.
“The Palaszczuk Government has committed to developing a practical, effective action plan by late 2016 for improving outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander children and families, in partnership with the community.
“The groundwork for the plan was laid today with the launch of a supporting document, Towards a Queensland action plan for vulnerable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families.
“Improving outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children can only be achieved through the concerted efforts of the whole government, as well as leadership from and collaboration with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders.
“This Action Plan will be all about community-led approaches to improving outcomes.
“Building on the consultations over the past 18 months, we are committed to working with Indigenous Queenslanders and service providers on this Action Plan to address this crisis.”
Initiatives to improve outcomes and address over-representation in the child protection system include:
• The development of a practical, whole-of-government action plan to improve life outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children
• $150 million over five years for new Indigenous parenting and family support and wellbeing services
• Investment of $6 million in an Empowering Families Innovation Fund to support innovative prevention and early intervention programs to keep kids safe and well
• Appointment of a new Commissioner, Indigenous woman Ms Tammy Williams, within the Queensland Family and Child Commission, announced last month by the Premier
• Progressing reforms to the Child Protection Act 1999 with a focus on enabling Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities to take greater responsibility for protecting children
• Holding an annual Queensland Our Kids, Our Families, Our Communities Gathering, with the inaugural gathering to be held in August 2016, and
• Establishing the Steering Committee on youth sexual violence and abuse.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families will also benefit from the ongoing reforms of Queensland’s child protection and family support services, as well as initiatives to tackle domestic and family violence, boost participation in early years programs and close the gap in health outcomes.
For more information visit www.qld.gov.au/supportingfamilies
“Queensland business confidence has remained the highest of any mainland State for 10 months in a row since last year’s State Budget, according to the National Australia Bank’s Monthly Business Survey.”