Young Family Homelessness
Vulnerable Children & Young People
State Budget Must Invest in Children
Budgets are traditionally a good indicator of what a government’s priorities are. The upcoming State Budget needs to demonstrate that children and young people are a priority for the O’Farrell Government.
It’s well known that governments across Australia face challenges as they try to balance their books by cutting spending to even out revenue falls. How effectively taxpayers’ money is being spent is under close scrutiny from the community.
We understand that governments, like us, like our clients, need to keep an eye on the budget to ensure the bottom line doesn’t blow out. The NSW Government has already flagged the upcoming budget may be a tough one.
Reductions in government spending seem to be inevitable but it is paramount that cut backs do not undermine good public policy. Our most vulnerable children and young people should not lose out to a budget bottom line. Spending on services for our most vulnerable must, at the very least, be maintained at current levels in the next budget, with a plan to invest further in building up a good system for children.
Resources invested in vulnerable children and young people benefit the whole community. It makes a difference for children’s lives now and for everyone in the future. Conversely, failure to invest will mean a greater and more intensive level of investment down the track. This means medium to long term risks to the NSW bottom line.
An example of an area where we must not see a reduction in service levels or investment is child protection and out-of-home care. This is a critical area of spending, where governments can make a difference, where the evidence shows the benefits of investment far outweighs the cost.
The current Government has made clear commitments in its State Plan, New South Wales 2021, to reduce the number of children and young people placed in out-of-home care by 1.5 per cent each year. The budget must provide the framework for this to happen.
Minister Goward has spoken publicly and strongly about the importance of investing in family preservation and restoration services. It’s vital that the upcoming budget shows a willingness to resource this at the level of intensity needed to make a real difference. These highly vulnerable children deserve nothing less. Without this, the number of children and young people in care will continue to rise. In NSW, the rate of children and young people placed in care is above the national average. We simply must do better.
Investing in such services was made a priority action in New South Wales 2021. These services matter because they work with families, create lasting change and most importantly, keep our most vulnerable children safe. For those children who cannot stay at home, we must ensure that our out-of-home care system is properly resourced. This will mean non-government organisations can deliver support to carers, support to children and give children and young people the life they deserve.
Without further investment in these services through the budget, it is questionable whether the important goals the Government set itself in the New South Wales 2021 State Plan will be achieved. It is great that the Government has made specific commitments in this important area. We look forward to the upcoming budget providing the framework for the Government to deliver on its commitments.
UnitingCare Children Young People and Families