Here is what the executive summary says:
There is potential for all governments to do better in preventing the circumstances in which child abuse and neglect are often found; and in ensuring the wellbeing of all Australian children.
The final framework will clarify the Australian Government’s role and will be a practical working document outlining concrete actions to be undertaken by governments and other players.
In light of the unacceptable and increasing numbers of substantiated cases of child abuse and neglect, the Australian Government has committed to developing a national framework for protecting children, and has released this discussion paper to canvass ideas on what should be included.
Child abuse and neglect cannot be easily disentangled from issues such as poverty, homelessness, drug and alcohol addiction, domestic violence, mental health issues and social isolation. Understanding the ways these factors inter-relate and developing strong connected solutions require the effort and attention of all levels of government, non-government organisations providing key services and support for families, and the broader community. This will form a key part of the Australian Government’s new social inclusion agenda.
The paper acknowledges the policing and statutory role of State and Territory Governments in responding to allegations of child abuse and neglect. However it highlights the potential for all governments to do better in preventing the circumstances in which child abuse and neglect are often found; and in ensuring the wellbeing of all Australian children.
The actions proposed for inclusion in the framework are those where there is room to improve connection and coordination across various parts of the system and across jurisdictional boundaries; where a national approach would ensure better use of resources; or where the Australian Government could make use of its policies and programs to ensure children are better protected.
The final framework will clarify the Australian Government’s role and will be a practical working document outlining concrete actions to be undertaken by governments and other players. Some are already being implemented; others would require change in approach or new commitment.
Key measures for consideration in the framework are:
Stronger prevention focus
Better use of early intervention family support services
Enhancing Centrelink’s role to identify and refer vulnerable families
Targeted action on parenting and alcohol misuse
Promotion of good parenting
Support for families to protect children online
Better collaboration between services
Income management – including Northern Territory and Cape York models
National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and Children
A national mechanism to plan future work and investments
A solution driven national research program
Additional child focus in adult specialist services
Improving responses for children in care and young people leaving care
National standards and monitoring of the out-of-home care system
Support for foster carers and informal carers
Improved assistance for young people leaving care
Improving responses to Indigenous children
Targeted investigative measures
A common approach to protecting Indigenous children
A better service model to protect Indigenous children in towns and cities
A better service model to protect Indigenous children in remote communities
More responsiveness to Indigenous children’s issues within existing services
Supporting compliance with the Aboriginal placement principle
Northern Territory Emergency Response review
Attracting and retaining the right workforce
A national workforce strategy
Specific Indigenous workforce strategy
Improving child protection systems
Identifying national indicators of child wellbeing
National standards and performance reporting
Improving data collection and knowledge sharing
Better sharing of police intelligence across jurisdictions
The issues and proposals outlined in this paper are intended as a starting point for discussions over the next three months with key stakeholders, experts and those with direct experience of child protection systems. Other ideas and viewpoints are welcome. It is intended that the national framework for protecting Australia’s children will be finalised before the end of 2008.