Monday 9 May 2022

Frontline services call for a national child, youth and family wellbeing strategy

Members of the WA Children’s Policy and Advocacy Council (CPAC) have written to MPs, Senators and federal candidates across Western Australia calling on them to commit to seven key election priorities for children, young people and families ahead of the May 21 Election.

Independent CPAC Chair, Kim Brooklyn, said this election was critical for our children’s future.

“More children are now growing up in poverty in Australia. As we face a rising cost of living and a crisis in access to early education and care, this crisis will only get worse,” Kim Brooklyn said.

“The latest data from the Australian Early Development Census shows more children are developmentally disadvantaged.

“We know that the early years are crucial to lifelong development; investing early in growth and wellbeing provides the greatest returns to future health, happiness and productivity.

“The priorities recommended by CPAC, which have been forwarded to MPs, Senators and candidates right across Western Australia, will ensure that every child is safe and can thrive to meet their full potential.”

CPAC is calling on all parties and candidates in this Federal Election to commit to:

  1. Implement a National Child, Youth and Family Wellbeing Strategy;
  2. Ensure no child is growing up in poverty;
  3. Reform national childcare funding to ensure universal access;
  4. Develop a national workforce strategy for early education and care;
  5. Fund more mental health services for young Australians in schools and communities;
  6. Raise the Age of criminal responsibility so that no child is in prison; and
  7. Give children and young people a voice in decisions that affect them.

The following can be attributed to Independent CPAC Chair, Kim Brooklyn:

A Child, Youth and Family Wellbeing Strategy

“Children and young people growing up in families experiencing poverty and disadvantage face greater stresses and have fewer of the opportunities they need for healthy development, which is why a National Child, Youth and Family Wellbeing Strategy is the top priority for CPAC.

“An inclusive, measurable and evidence-based national strategy will be the key driver of helping to solve many of the other priorities areas and is ultimately the one thing we can do that will collectively make the biggest difference to at-risk children and young people right across the country.”

Address poverty

“The evidence overwhelmingly shows that growing up in poverty has the single biggest impact on a child’s development and well-being, and can have a scarring effect that can still be seen a decade or more into their adult working lives.

“That’s why we need to urgently raise the rate of federal income support so that it is above the poverty line, increase commonwealth rental assistance and commit to building more social and affordable housing so that every child has a safe place to live.”

Fix Early Childhood Education and Care

“It is abundantly clear that the market-based approach to childcare in Australia is not working – Western Australia has the most unequal access to childcare in the country – with many more children seeking early education and care than available places, and far fewer services in lower socio-economic areas.

“It is time for Australia to reform national childcare funding to ensure universal access, but especially for low-income families, to ensure that children are not missing out on early development with their peers and parents – particularly women – are not being kept out of the workforce.”

Protect the mental health and wellbeing of young Australians in a changing world

“Access to more and better mental health services has consistently been one of the top-ranking issues for young people and, with rates of anxiety, despair and self-harm all rising as a result of the pandemic, we need to act now to understand and address these issues through considered action at a national level.

“The National Mental Health Commission has called for a child-centred mental health strategy; a universal system with a focus on prevention, evidence-based practice and needs-based service delivery.

“Focusing on prevention and early intervention in the mental health of infants and young children, and supporting parents, can make a major difference to life outcomes. CPAC fully endorses the Mental Health Commission’s call for a National strategy.”

Decriminalise childhood

“Children do not belong in prison; they need help, not more harm. Yet, here in WA we still lock up kids who are as young as ten which can have a devastating impact on their development, wellbeing and mental health.

“The kids in prison are society’s most vulnerable – more than half are in the care of the child protection system, 78% are Aboriginal, and 89% have at least one form of neurodevelopmental impairment.

“By raising the age of criminal responsibility, we can ensure young people get the support they need to take a better path through life.”

Read the full CPAC Election Statement on WACOSS’ website.

About CPAC

The Children’s Policy and Advocacy Council (CPAC) is the one forum where leaders of children and family services in WA come together to identify emerging issues, share learnings and insights, and develop a common agenda that advances the wellbeing of children, young people and families in the west. CPAC is convened by the Western Australian Council of Social Service.

Media Contact

Tim Oliver (WACOSS) – 0431 9696 25


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