The Tasmanian Government has been urged to fund an advocacy organisation to represent parents involved with the Child Safety system.
The recommendation was included in a budget priorities submission prepared by Anglicare which said the measure would improve outcomes for children and families.
“Our state needs an advocacy organisation that can consult with parents and represent their interests in the system,” said Meg Webb, manager of Anglicare’s Social Action and Research Centre. “Research has found that local parents and families struggle to have their voices heard and their participation valued and respected,” she said.
“These are some of the most marginalised and stigmatised people in Tasmania. There is a lack of recognition of the contributions they can bring, and the difference that advocacy would make in strengthening families and preventing unnecessary child removals”.
Anglicare said other states including Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales, the ACT and Western Australia all had family advocacy organisations. It recommended the Government provide recurrent funding for a Family Inclusion Network (FIN) organisation in Tasmania, which could be linked into this national network.
“Insights from the experiences of parents and families can help to improve the design and delivery of services,” said Ms Webb.
The Executive Officer of FIN WA, Debbie Henderson, said that organisation had recently celebrated 10 years of operation. FIN WA is a highly regarded, independent and autonomous organisation with good working relationships with government and non-government organisations. “At a time of significant reform of the Tasmanian Child Safety system, the voices of families are critical to the design, development and implementation of policy and services,” she said. “The respectful inclusion of families leads to more positive outcomes for children, young people, their families and communities”.
Anglicare said that to date, the parent voice had been missed from the state’s redesign of the Child Safety system. “Yet good advocacy and support has the potential to improve the quality of the relationships between parents and those working in the Child Safety system,” said Ms Webb. “It can better balance the power and firmly establish an avenue to hear the voices of parents and families”.
“Advocacy also enables a more efficient use of resources because we know that earlier resolution saves time, prevents the removal of children, and gives parents access to the support they need,” she said.
Anglicare estimates there are more than 2500 families involved in the Child Safety System in Tasmania at any one time.
Anglicare’s budget priorities submission also recommended providing care for unaccompanied homeless children, increased investment in affordable housing, and funding for mental health support.
Issued Tuesday December 11