Community Services Ministers met to continue discussions about actions in place to support communities, families and children to manage the impact of the Coronavirus. All Ministers acknowledged that while Australia has managed to limit the spread of the virus, there is an ongoing need to monitor its impact on families and children including mental health. Ministers agreed to continue meeting to share information and ensure the needs of families and children are met as we enter the recovery phase of the pandemic and the community responds to the easing of physical distancing restrictions.
Current action in response to Coronavirus
Ministers noted the efforts of each jurisdiction to continue delivering essential family support and child protection services during the Coronavirus pandemic. They discussed the efforts made by service providers, staff and carers to move to innovative service delivery models and to apply the lessons learnt from the last few months to guide the restoration of face-to-face services, while maintaining the safety of clients, staff and volunteers.
Ministers acknowledged the importance of continued monitoring of data on reporting of child abuse and family and domestic violence as children return to school and resume regular community activities.
Progressing work on national policy initiatives
Noting the importance of prioritising efforts to respond to the challenges of Coronavirus, Ministers agreed to focus on key national policy initiatives, including the development of the successor to the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020, with further consideration of the Framework expected in September 2020.
Ministers noted the pandemic has provided the opportunity to renew focus on enhancing service provision for vulnerable children and young people. Ministers acknowledged work that Children and Families Secretaries is undertaking, to examine ways to improve access to services by children and young people in care and care leavers.
Ministers also agreed that discussions will continue on the development of the National Centre for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse to ensure consultations are progressed with states and territories on the business case for this important initiative.