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What does the newly handed down State Budget offer for the Queensland child protection sector?

Following our preliminary examination of the State Budget released 1 December 2020, there is little ‘new news’ of direct relevance to the child protection sector to report. A scan of the budget papers reveals an abundant use of the word ‘continued’ to describe many of the financial investments with the words ‘additional funding’ making a far less frequent appearance.

It is, of course, pleasing to see a continuation of many of the investments previously made by the Government, such as the $166.6M allocation to continue implementation of the Supporting Families Changing Futures reforms to build the family support system. This will enable continuation of services such as Family and Child Connect, Intensive Family Support, Family Wellbeing Services and Next Step Plus. However, a greater number of (and more substantial) additional funding investments, such as the added $6M over four years to support the prevention of domestic and family violence, would have been welcomed.

PeakCare is especially disappointed that the Government did not follow the lead recently set by the Victorian Government when it announced that an amount of $75 million had been allocated within its budget to make “the landmark Home Stretch program universal – ensuring every young person in out‑of‑home care can receive support up to the age of 21, helping to make sure they have the stable foundation to begin their lives…. (by providing) … an accommodation allowance so a young person can remain living with their kinship or foster carer if they wish, or transition to supported independent living arrangements”. (Victorian Budget 2020/21 Putting People First Overview, p.42)

Click here to read PeakCare’s summary of those aspects of the Queensland budget which should be of particular interest to our Members and all who are involved in delivering child protection and related services. In addition to drawing your attention to a number of the listed budget items, the summary incorporates statements highlighting service commitments and priorities for 2020-21 held by several key government agencies. These commitments and priorities provide a framework for both anticipating matters that will receive focussed attention during oncoming months and for holding government agencies to account for their performance in relation to these matters.

Speaking of accountability, the full budget papers also state for each government agency effectiveness and efficiency measures. PeakCare is puzzled by only two effectiveness measures having been stated for the Queensland Family and Child Commission (QFCC) – one relating to the number of people accessing the ‘oneplace’ community services directory and the other about the satisfaction levels of those who access it. Surely there must be other measures that can be better used to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of the QFCC given the significance of the role it plays within the child protection system.

After reviewing PeakCare’s summary, let us know your thoughts about what you are either pleased about or not so pleased about in relation to the 2020-21 budget. Do not forget that another budget – for the 2021-22 financial year- is due within a few short months. The comments you enter now may help to shape our advocacy about what our sector wishes to have addressed within the next budget.

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Open letter on youth justice published in the Courier Mail on Saturday, 28 January 2023

PeakCare Members, Supporters and media contacts may already be aware of the full-page open letter to the Queensland Parliament published…

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