Investment needed now to fix system in crisis and support families to thrive

The child protection system in Victoria is broken and is causing harm. For too many children and families, their experience of child protection is one of trauma, despair and family separation.

The system needs to be one of hope, where children and families get support that recognises their strengths and allows them to thrive.

Berry Street, along with partners across the sector, is calling on the Government to reform the broken child protection system and invest in early targeted intervention now.

Shifting the system towards early intervention will allow families to stay safely together and address challenges before they spiral out of control

We must also recognise cultural connection as a protective factor for Aboriginal families.

 

parent with children

 

The case for investment to support families in face of COVID-19

Berry Street, in collaboration with the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare and leading agencies across the child and family services sector, commissioned research by Social Ventures Australia in 2019 which outlined the economic case for investment in early intervention. The report was generously funded by the Macquarie Group Foundation.

Since then we’ve been facing an unprecedented crisis with the COVID-19 pandemic. Social Ventures Australia has built on this research, considering the impact of COVID-19 on a system already in crisis.

COVID-19 increases risk factors for child abuse and neglect

The COVID-19 pandemic has had significant social and environmental impacts which are felt by all Victorians including:

  • social isolation and stress

  • risk and experience of family violence

  • poorer mental health

  • loss of employment

  • lack of access to social supports.

These are known risk factors of child abuse and neglect. COVID-19 has also reduced the protective factors that keep families together and children safe.

Without Government investment now – the system will continue to cause harm to Victoria’s children and families

Without investment, and in the face of severe impacts from COVID-19, we could see:

  • demand for child protection rise by 20% for five years

  • 27,500 more children in out-of-home care by 2026

  • the impact of inter-generational disadvantage, institutional racism and over-representation of Aboriginal families intensify.

Overhaul of child protection and a shift to early intervention

The child protection system needs a complete overhaul. Investing now in evidence‑based early intervention programs is critical alongside significant cultural reforms.

  • 1,460 children can be prevented from entering out-of-home care or progressing to residential care every year
  • 9,150 children could access targeted early intervention programs, supporting them to stay safely with their families
  • Victoria could save $1.99 billion over 10 years.
  • Given the over‑representation of Aboriginal children in out‑of‑home care, there is a need for investment in effective early interventions that keep Aboriginal families safely together. Decisions on what early intervention looks like for Aboriginal families and children must be owned and directed by Aboriginal organisations and communities.

Download the report

Read the report summary

Read the full report

Full Report: Keeping families together through COVID-19: The strengthened case for early intervention

Report Summary: Keeping families together through COVID-19: The strengthened case for early intervention

 

Further information 

See the original reports that make the economic case for investment in early intervention.

Read the 2019 report summary

Read the 2019 full report

 

About Social Ventures Australia

Social Ventures Australia (SVA) is a not-for-profit organisation that works with partners to alleviate disadvantage – towards an Australia where all people and communities thrive. SVA influences systems to deliver better social outcomes for people by learning what works in communities, helping organisations be more effective, sharing our perspectives and advocating for change.

 

Funded by the Macquarie Group Foundation

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