Wednesday, 22 February 2023

Questions without notice and ministers statements

Ministers statements: child and family services


Ministers statements: child and family services

Lizzie BLANDTHORN (Western Metropolitan – Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers, Minister for Child Protection and Family Services) (12:24): I rise to update the house on the progress of the government’s reforms to child and family services under the Roadmap for Reform. Family service practitioners across Victoria play a vital role in supporting vulnerable families in many and varied ways, such as connecting them with community supports, building parenting skills, improving family functioning and delivering family therapies. This is why we have invested $387 million in family services in 2022–23, more than three times the amount invested by those opposite.

It is not just about funding; it is also about designing the most effective interventions. Under the Roadmap for Reform, this government continues to invest in evidence-informed interventions and practices so that vulnerable families will receive the most effective support for their circumstances. One such evidence-informed program is the family preservation and reunification response. This service uses evidence-based approaches to keep families safely together and support children in care to safely return home. It is making a real difference to real families, as the example of Gina and Mark illustrates, noting that we have changed their names for this statement.

This couple have three children who are no longer in their care. They have a history of child protection involvement and drug use. When Gina became pregnant, they engaged with support services so that their baby could remain safely in their care. The family preservation and reunification response team worked with child protection to understand the family’s strengths and their vulnerabilities, visiting the family frequently and developing an action plan and goals for the family. They supported Gina and Mark with housing, education and parenting skills, as well as linking them into community supports. As a result of the intervention, Gina and Mark were able to engage in positive behavioural change, secure stable accommodation and break the pattern of illicit substance abuse. Since the child’s birth, the child has remained in the care of their parents, is meeting all milestones and most importantly is happy and healthy.

This is the real difference that evidence-informed services such as the family preservation and reunification response can make to vulnerable families. We are proud to have a minister responsible for family services, and we look forward to those opposite recognising the importance of this portfolio as well.