Wednesday, 19 September 2018
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Families and Social Services, Senator Fifield. Will the minister update the Senate as to how the government's strong economic management is enabling investments in programs to assist vulnerable families?
Thank you, Senator Hume; I can indeed. The Liberal-National government is building a stronger economy and budget, as colleagues know, so that we can fund the essential services that families depend upon. Through payments such as the family tax benefit, we're supporting families fairly and sustainably. The government spends over $18 billion on FTB annually, assisting over 1.4 million families. This government is also investing over $740 million annually through its families and communities programs. These programs seek to strengthen family and community functioning, support vulnerable families, improve children's wellbeing, reduce the costs of family breakdown and improve financial capability and literacy.
Of course, addictions, such as drugs, gambling and alcohol, put functioning families at risk. Further expansion of the cashless debit card and our policy to implement a drug testing trial to combat the scourge of drug and alcohol misuse, which is the core of so much social dysfunction, are important policies that this government is committed to to further improve outcomes for families. The government's substance misuse measures, including the drug testing trial, are designed to help families and individuals to identify drug use issues in welfare recipients and help these people access the support they need, so that they can get back into employment.
As I have said before, good economic policy and good social policy are not alternatives; they're two sides of the one coin. You need a good economic policy to sustain a good social policy. It is the equivalent in a policy sense of breathing in and breathing out—breathing in being good economic policy; breathing out being good social policy.
The government and I'm sure all colleagues are committed to protecting Australia's children. We are working with state and territory governments to implement the National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children 2009-20. This will deliver on commitments to improve permanency and stability in out-of-home care and keep children safe. We've also established the National Office for Child Safety from 1 July in response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The establishment of the office demonstrates the government's commitment to national reform to prevent future abuse, building on existing measures, such as the national framework. The office has a national leadership role working across sectors in the development and implementation of policies to enhance children's safety and to reduce future harm to children.
These are matters that I know all colleagues care deeply about. I've already touched on the issue of children and the needs that they have. We are also working with the states and territories, non-government organisations and the community to reduce family violence through the implementation of the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and Children.
In September 2015, the government announced the $100 million Women's Safety Package to ensure we have measures to support women and their children experiencing or at risk of domestic, family and sexual violence. We also have the Third Action Plan of the national plan, launched on 28 October 2016, which is part of this government's long-term commitment to reduce domestic, family and sexual violence. The Third Action Plan is underpinned by a $100 million funding envelope over three years. (Time expired)