A welcome investment to support vulnerable families: MacKillop Family Services response to the Victorian state budget

Posted on 5 May 2017

MacKillop Family Services (“MacKillop”) has praised the Victorian state government for its commitment to better support those experiencing family violence, by adopting a comprehensive and coordinated approach to assisting at-risk mothers and children.

In announcing its 2017 state budget, the government committed $1.9 billion over four years to fund virtually all the recommendations made by the Royal Commission into Family Violence.

MacKillop CEO, Dr Robyn Miller, has welcomed the investment, saying, “we have been given an opportunity to do better for vulnerable families, particularly children and young people who suffer so much from living in homes where violence is the norm.”

“Children do not have to see, or hear violence to be harmed by it. Children can experience the trauma of family violence in many ways, from direct experiences of violence, being subjected to an angry or hostile voice while in utero, or just sensing that their mother is in fear.”

Key to the government’s family violence package is the establishment of 17 Support and Safety Hubs, providing a central location to access police, counselling, child protection, housing and financial support. Dr Miller said MacKillop looked forward to working with the government and relevant stakeholders to shape the hubs.

“Victims and survivors are too often forced to navigate different systems and service providers, which simply heightens their stress,” she said. “The concept of a single gateway for vulnerable families, that brings together under one roof the services they need to feel safe and protected, is a wonderful initiative.”

Dr Miller also praised the government’s innovative changes to the justice system, including the commitment to establish five specialist family violence courts.

With MacKillop supporting some 350 children and young people in out-of-home care, Dr Miller welcomed additional funding for an extra 1,982 foster care placements, 100 more Targeted Care Packages (TCPs) and an increased investment in early intervention programs.

“Extra TCPs and foster care placements will enable us to more effectively transition children and young people out of residential care, to home-based care arrangements that can be tailored to their individual needs,” she said.

“MacKillop is also focused on preventing children coming into care. We know early intervention, particularly in the years from birth to a child’s early years, is key to breaking the intergenerational cycle of disadvantage so often seen in vulnerable families. By strengthening a family’s ability to care for their children, we can break that cycle.”

While Dr Miller acknowledged the budget had gone a long way towards addressing the 227 recommendations made by the royal commission, she said there is still much hard work ahead to reverse the upward trend in rates of family violence.

“We need to keep the momentum going – we owe it to the families and children we see every day who suffer the devastating effects of violence, neglect and abuse. Every child deserves the right to a life lived with love, safety and security.”