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Good morning everyone.
It’s great to be here in Darwin on behalf of my colleague the Hon Paul Fletcher, Minister for Families and Social Services today to officially launch the Fourth Action Plan 2018-2020 of the National Plan for Protecting Australia’s Children.
I would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we are meeting, and pay my respects to their elders past and present.
I would also like to welcome Ms Natalie Lewis, Board Member SNAICC and Dr Brian Babington, CEO Families Australia who will speak shortly, Mr Simon Schrapel AM, Chief Executive of Uniting Communities and the many other stakeholders that have joined us for the launch.
We’re all here because we share the same goal to protect our children and this remains a national priority for the Australian Government – a priority shared by the state and territory governments.
I’m pleased to be here today to officially launch the Fourth Action Plan following the endorsement by Community Services Ministers across Australia.
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.
Protecting children is everyone’s business and the endorsement of this Action Plan demonstrates that all levels of government in Australia are committed to continuing to work together to improve the safety and wellbeing of Australia’s children and young people.
The National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020 provides the critical foundation for governments and non-government organisations to work together to achieve our shared vision that Australia’s children and young people are safe and well.
While the state and territory governments have statutory responsibility for child protection systems, the National Framework focuses on addressing complex problems that require cohesive, concentrated effort from the Commonwealth, state and territory governments, and the non-government sector.
We recognise that the best way to protect children is to prevent child abuse and neglect from occurring in the first place.
Findings of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory have highlighted the need to strengthen the ability of families, organisations and communities to keep children safe, and the National Framework emphasises prevention and early intervention activities to keep children out of child protection systems.
The first three Action Plans under the National Framework delivered many key achievements, including the appointment of the National Children’s Commissioner, the development of National Standards for out-of-home care, and the delivery of projects to improve service responses for families and promote better understanding of child wellbeing. We know however, that more needs to be done.
The launch today of the Fourth Action Plan is the next step to ensure the safety and wellbeing of Australia’s children.
The Four Key Priorities of the plan are:
- Improving outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children at risk of entering, or in contact with child protection systems.
- Improving prevention and early intervention through joint service planning and investment.
- Improving outcomes for children in out-of-home care by enhancing placement stability through reunification and other permanent care options.
- Improving organisations’ ability to keep children and young people safe from abuse.
The Fourth Action Plan prioritises the best interests of children and is focused on:
- delivering place-based initiatives nationally to ensure there is a more collaborative and integrated approach to early intervention and prevention;
- supporting children in out-of-home care by improving permanency outcomes; and
- supporting the implementation of the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations;
There will be a strong focus on improving outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their families throughout the implementation of all Fourth Action Plan Priority Areas.
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.
So its my great pleasure to thank everyone that has worked on the plan and officially launch the Fourth Action Plan under the National Plan for Protecting Australia’s Children. I will now hand over to Natalie Lewis.