14 October 2020

Tania Maxwell MP, Member for Northern Victoria, has called on the Victorian Government to readdress child protection funding from crisis response to preventative spending.

Two reports released by SVA Consulting – commissioned by Berry Street, the Centre for Excellence in Child Welfare and other leading child and family service agencies – has consolidated the economic case for far greater early intervention in child protection.  A further report by SVA Consulting evaluates the impact of the COVID-19 response on the state of play in this area of policy.

Ms Maxwell said that there was a strong case for re-evaluating funding opportunities and ensuring a continued focus on long-term interventions and other intensive supports for vulnerable families and children.

In 2018-2019, almost 12,000 children were in out-of-home care in Victoria, representing 0.8% of Victorian children and growing at around 11 per cent each year.  Modelling in the reports indicate that targeted early intervention programs would prevent up to 1,200 children every year from entering out-of-home care or residential care, which Ms Maxwell said created a compelling case for reform.

Ms Maxwell reinforced the SVA’s calculations citing that, as well as the human cost, billions of dollars of savings can ultimately be achieved from funding evidence-based early intervention program at key points in Victoria’s child protection and out-of-home care systems.

Ms Maxwell has repeatedly called for a shift in focus to programs that will address the root cause of neglect and abuse, in order to reduce the number of children entering out-of-home care, which is projected to reach 26,000 children by 2026.

Ms Maxwell said she was hopeful that the upcoming State Government would deliver a significant commitment to programs designed to negate the tragic social, educational and health outcomes that are a recurring fate for children suffering neglect and abuse.

Quotes attributable to Tania Maxwell MP:

 “Engaging vulnerable families and children at the early stages is vital, and early intervention is a much preferred approach compared to addressing issues at the crisis level.”

“There is a significant case for prioritising funding for early intervention and primary prevention to reduce the number of children entering out-of-home care.”