The recession and COVID-19 have placed families under increased financial pressure and contributed to family breakdown, placing an increasing number of children at risk of serious harm.
The child protection and out-of-home care system is failing to deliver for vulnerable Aboriginal children, who now make up 41% of children in out-of-home-care.
What's in the 2021-22 Budget
The measures in this budget are for the continuation of existing programs and include:
- $1.4 billion to support the safety, welfare and wellbeing of vulnerable children in out-of-home care and supporting permanency outcomes. This includes:
- $5.7 million ($12 million over 4 years) to increase guardianship and adoptions for children in out-of-home care. Funding will support a targeted promotion and awareness campaign, establish a dedicated guardianship and adoption taskforce, and improve support for prospective guardians and adoptive parents.
- $756.5 million to support the child protection system through improved assessment of reports of child abuse and neglect, and provide support to keep children safely at home and prevent entries into care.
What does it mean for those doing it tough?
This budget does not report on changes to funding for targeted early intervention or prevention programs. This budget has missed the opportunity to make substantive additional investments in evidence based early intervention programs.
This budget does not commit to a comprehensive response to strengthening families or address the factors leading to Aboriginal children entering the out-of-home care system. The main announcement of $12 million to promote guardianship and the permanent adoption of children in out-of-home care does little to prevent children entering care, and is inappropriate for Aboriginal children.
This budget fails to respond to any of the recommendations in the Family is Culture review. This is required to improve outcomes for vulnerable Aboriginal families, address the increasing overrepresentation of Aboriginal children in the child protection and out-of-home care system and meet the new closing the Gap targets.
What is needed?
As highlighted by the Auditor-General there continues to be a need for an evidence-based whole-of-government early intervention approach for vulnerable children and families in NSW. The approach should be designed with Aboriginal people so that children remain connected to their kin, community and culture.
To address the ongoing over-representation of Aboriginal children in the child protection system the Government should commit to fully funding and implementing all of the 125 recommendations of the Family is Culture review and strengthen supports for families in order to keep them together through investing in early intervention and prevention approaches.
Budget responses from the sector:
- ACWA Pre-Budget Submission
- NCOSS 2021-22 Pre-Budget Submission
- A Wave of Disadvantage Across NSW: Impact of the COVID-19 recession