Community Services Ministers Communique

Community Services Ministers met online and in person at the Australian Government Department of Social Services’ Enid Lyons Building, Greenway ACT, on Friday 14 October 2022.

The meeting marked an exciting landmark in transforming the child and family services system to improve the safety and wellbeing of children and families experiencing vulnerability or disadvantage.

Ministers welcomed the opportunity to come together with representatives of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership Group (Leadership Group) and the National Coalition on Child Safety and Wellbeing Steering Group to take the next steps in bringing to life Safe and Supported: The National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2021-2031 (Safe and Supported).

In the context of shared decision-making, Ministers and the representatives of the Leadership Group agreed in-principle to the first Action Plans under Safe and Supported. The Action Plans set an ambitious agenda that will tackle the complex challenges presented in helping families to keep children safe.

The First Action Plans have been co-designed with the Leadership Group. For the first time, there is a specific Action Plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families. Adjunct Professor Muriel Bamblett AM, from the Leadership Group described the Action Plans as an “historical milestone in a shared journey with governments to improve outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people and increase self-determination for our communities”.

Ministers reaffirmed that arrangements for implementing Safe and Supported will continue to deliver on Priority Reform One of the National Agreement on Closing the Gap (National Agreement) by giving effect to genuine partnerships and shared decision-making between Australian governments and First Nations peoples.

Ministers also highlighted that Safe and Supported will contribute to responses to Target 12 on out-of-home care under the National Agreement. It will make an important contribution to supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, young people and families, and ultimately moving towards a future where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are in control of decisions made about their children and families.

Key to the discussion was the complexity and interconnectedness of issues impacting children's safety and the need for collective effort across government portfolios, the sector and the community.

Ministers and the Leadership Group endorsed the Action Plans in-principle, including the Actions, Activities, Deliverables, Outcomes Frameworks, Theories of Change and high-level governance arrangements. The Actions, Activities and Deliverables capture the work that will occur to implement the first five years of Safe and Supported. The Outcomes Framework for each Action Plan details specific changes that Safe and Supported aims to achieve, while the Theories of Change explain how and why changes will occur over the life of Safe and Supported.

Ministers reiterated their commitment to provide final endorsement of and launch the Action Plans in December 2022.