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Speech to launch the Child and Family Welfare Association of Australia (CAFWAA)\nreport 'A time to invest in Australia's most disadvantaged children, young people and families' Swiss Grand Hotel, Bondi Beach, Sydney.



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Hon. Larry Anthony, MP Minister for Children and Youth Affairs

SPEECH FOR THE HON LARRY ANTHONY MINISTER FOR CHILDREN AND YOUTH AFFAIRS TO LAUNCH THE CHILD AND FAMILY WELFARE ASSOCIATION OF AUSTRALIA (CAFWAA) report 'A TIME TO INVEST IN AUSTRALIA'S MOST DISADVANTAGED CHILDREN, YOUNG

PEOPLE AND FAMILIES' SWISS GRAND HOTEL, BONDI BEACH, SYDNEY Morning Tea, MONDAY 2 SEPTEMBER 2000

Ladies and gentlemen.

Once again I'm pleased to be here with you, but this time in a less formal way.

I was delighted to accept another invitation for today from the Child and Family Welfare Association.

CAFWAA's report, titled 'A Time to Invest in Australia's Most Disadvantaged Children, Young People and their Families', calls for some key changes:

A greater focus on supporting families and early intervention and prevention programs; ● Ensuring improved permanency planning and stability in care for children unable to live at home; ●

Improving quality of out of home care and family preservation services; and ●

Ensuring that the most disadvantaged children are assisted as a priority. ● It's a good report and well worth reading.

You can't look at some of the figures in the report and feel anything but horrified.

That 10 per cent of children with confirmed cases of abuse are subject to further abuse within a 12 month period. ●

That the number of children in care continues to rise at a frightening rate, at a time when recruiting foster carers is getting harder. ●

That over half of the child abuse notifications received get no further investigation. ● The report is a very timely reminder of these vital issues as the Government considers the importance of the early years in children's lives and its early childhood agenda.

I was able to share some of my thoughts on foster care and the welfare of Indigenous children earlier. I have certainly had the benefit of discussions with a number of community organisations around these issues.

I have invited my state colleagues to a roundtable later this year, particularly to talk about foster care

and how best to support this critical group.

We clearly have to put in a maximum effort to do as much as we can for the special groups of children highlighted in this report.

But it is no use taking the first feel good solution that happens along.

The Government is not convinced a Children's Commissioner at the national level would magically make any real dent in these difficult problems. It will take concerted effort from governments, communities and every individual to make a real difference in this area.

A little while ago I talked about some of the ways the Coalition Government is helping to strengthen families and communities. I won't run through them again, but I am proud of the significant runs we already have on the board.

With the focus on early intervention and prevention, I see many of our programs as wise 'investments' in today's children and in generations to come.

I believe being the first-ever Minister directly responsible for children's issues in the federal government also sends a strong signal that we are determined to tackle some of the difficult problems head-on, at the national level.

I am absolutely committed to taking a national leadership role when it comes to getting the best outcomes for children. The report recognises the importance of this kind of leadership.

Congratulations to everyone involved in putting this report together.

It gives me great pleasure now to officially launch the report of the Association of Children's Welfare Services, 'A Time to Invest in Australia's Most Disadvantaged Children, Young People and their Families' Thank you

END

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