Community Services Ministers’ Meeting Communiqué 9 April

Community Services Ministers’ (CSM) met in Adelaide and via teleconference on 9 April 2021.

Ministers primarily discussed the successor plan to the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020 (successor plan) and considered strategic priorities for collective effort under the successor plan.

Ministers agreed in principle to the following priorities for the successor plan:

  • Addressing the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in child protection systems.
  • A national approach to early intervention and targeted support for children and families experiencing vulnerability or disadvantage.
    • This includes strengthening the interface between services across jurisdictions including disability, early childhood education and care, health and mental health, drug and alcohol, domestic violence, justice, housing, and employment service systems.
  • Improved information sharing, data development and analysis.
  • Strengthening child and family sector workforce capability.

These priority areas focus on where there will be a demonstrable benefit in having a national approach and that can make the biggest impact on improving outcomes for the target cohort.

These priorities will be updated to reflect co-design with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Ministers also agreed to add a fourth priority group under the target cohort for the successor plan. The target cohort is children and families who are experiencing disadvantage and/or are vulnerable and the new priority group is:

  • children and young people with disability, and/or their parents/carers with disability.

This is in addition to the priority groups agreed in November 2020:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people
  • children and families with multiple and complex needs
  • children and young people experiencing or who have experienced abuse and/or neglect, including children in out-of-home care, and young people leaving out-of-home care and transitioning to adulthood.

Ministers also noted that the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC – National Voice for our Children) have launched their national public consultations for the successor plan as part of co-design.

Following the conclusion of these consultations in late April 2021, SNAICC, on behalf of key Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stakeholders, will work in partnership with the Australian Government, and state and territory governments to develop and launch the successor plan to the National Framework.

Ministers noted that a public consultation through the Department of Social Services’ Engage website (engage.dss.gov.au) and targeted consultations with children, young people and families will commence in May 2021. Consultation findings will inform the development of the first five-year implementation plan for the successor plan, which is expected to be launched in November 2021.

Ministers provided updates on their jurisdictional focus areas and noted that the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact vulnerable children and families and provide a challenge for the government and non-government sectors.

Ministers endorsed the updated CSM Terms of Reference, which now reflect the outcomes of the Review of COAG Council and Ministerial Forums.

Ministers received an update on the development of the National Strategy to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse (the National Strategy), which is scheduled for release in September.

Ministers were also provided with an update on the National Centre for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse. Ministers look forward to the finalisation of the procurement process and announcement of the successful provider.

The next CSM meeting is scheduled for 9 July 2021.

Attendees

Senator the Hon Anne Ruston, Australian Government

The Hon Michelle Landry MP, Australian Government

The Hon Simone McGurk MLA, Western Australian

The Hon Leanne Linard MP, Queensland

The Hon Kate Worden MLA, Northern Territory

The Hon Rachel Sanderson MP, South Australia

The Hon Gareth Ward MP, New South Wales

The Hon Luke Donnellan MP, Victoria

The Hon Rachael Stephen-Smith MLA, Australian Capital Territory

Tasmania is in caretaker mode and as a result the Hon Roger Jaensch MP, Minister for Human Services, was not able to attend.

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