As we approach the end of another COVID-challenged year, on behalf of the Federal Government, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to Forum members for your ongoing dedication and hard work, on behalf of children and their families who call the Territory home. Despite the pandemic, together we have made encouraging progress this year.
The National Permanency Conferences are so important. These remain a crucial opportunity for all of us to affirm our absolute commitment to doing what we can to ensure that every child in care across Australia can belong in a family that is safe, loving, stable and permanent.
I’ve had the honour of being the Assistant Minister for Children and Families for the past three years. And what is very clear is that protecting our kids, including those who are among our most vulnerable and disadvantaged, is everyone’s business.
Well, what an incredibly difficult time our nation has endured over the past 18 months. A once-in-a-century global pandemic, lockdowns, border closures, financial pressures – unfortunately COVID-19 continues to present enormous challenges for millions of Australian families, and their children.
As the Federal Assistant Minister for Children and Families, I’m pleased to say that there is a lot of important work currently underway when it comes to protecting Australia’s most vulnerable kids.
There’s no doubt that in child safety the challenges remain huge, but good things are happening. And that’s why occasions like this are so important.
We have a real opportunity to build on the momentum that we’ve secured so far when it comes to our aim to strengthen child safety across the nation, and this Forum will be front-and centre of these efforts – especially in the Territory.
Today of course, is a very important occasion and I’m pleased to be a part of the launch of SNAICC’s Family Matters Report for 2020. On behalf of the Morrison Government, I would like to commend SNAICC for their ongoing leadership over the past 40 years in providing an effective voice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.
This of course, is the fourth time that we’ve had the Permanency Conference and I must say congratulations to Adopt Change, and especially Renee Carter, for the huge amount of work that has gone into moving this year’s event into an online format. These are important events, because they were set up in response to the historic agreement by federal, state and territory Ministers in 2017 to improve permanency outcomes for children in out-of-home care.
I want to recognise the Chair of the Tripartite Forum, Donna Ah Chee for hosting us, and I am also very pleased that my colleague Ken Wyatt, our Minister for Indigenous Australians, was able to say a few words and join us today.
We are here to show our support for this tremendous Foundation that Bruce and Denise Morcombe established, as an enduring legacy for their beautiful son Daniel.
We are all here because of our shared commitment to strengthen and secure the safety and wellbeing of our nation’s children. I am especially looking forward to the Young People’s Panel, and hearing their views on how we can enhance the contributions of our youth during the development of policies which impact their lives.
This workshop today will help guide our approach as we move beyond the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children at the end of this year, towards the next children’s strategy.
The report being launched this morning – Belonging in Two Families – is the latest in a series of Adopt Change research reports which have helped draw attention to a fundamental need for children, not just here in Australia but the world over.
Family and Relationship Services Australia 2019 National Conference - New Horizons: Building the future, Paving the way
We know that well-functioning families are vital to our wellbeing as a nation, both socially and economically. We know that families, in all their forms, are critical for our children to grow up happy and healthy. It’s so important that if families are doing it tough, that they have access to the assistance and services that they need to get back on their feet.
The launch of the Fourth Action Plan is the next critical step in improving the way we, as a nation, care for and protect Australia’s children. The Fourth Action Plan will further build the foundations and evidence base that will enable us to continue to improve outcomes for Australia’s children and young people beyond 2020.
This new app is an innovative and important tool, tailored specifically to assist women with disabilities to recognise violence and abuse, understand their rights, and take action to ensure their safety.
Ensuring children’s safety and wellbeing is a major driver of national permanency reform. Every child deserves a secure and happy childhood and a chance to have their brightest possible future.
Improving outcomes for families, children and communities requires us to work together. We must be open, honest and transparent about what is working, what the evidence says and what the impact is. We owe that to this generation and the next.
It is not often you are able to have a focused conversation on addressing violence against women, and to get an opportunity to listen and absorb the knowledge of people with such deep experience. The focus has of course been the fourth and final action plan under the National Plan. The National Plan has been an Australia-wide commitment to addressing family, domestic and sexual violence across the Commonwealth, states and territories.