Monday, 9 August 2021
Questions without Notice
Closing the Gap
My question is to the Minister for Families and Social Services, Senator Ruston. Can the minister advise the Senate of the social services measures the Liberal and National government is implementing to support closing the gap?
I thank Senator Brockman for his question on this really, really important issue for all Australians. The release last week of the first implementation plan was a really important milestone towards closing the gap measures and targets as set out by the National Agreement on Closing the Gap. The plan highlights the real and practical actions that need to be taken across all governments, including, most importantly, across the social services portfolio area.
The social services package is a $98 million package across four particular initiatives that will have direct, positive and meaningful impacts on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. One of these measures is $49 million to support states and territories to review and redesign frontline services. The initiative brings together a range of professionals across a wide, wide cross-section of the community—workers such as social workers, mental health workers, medical professionals, drug and alcohol specialists, domestic violence support services, legal services, financial counsellors, child protection workers, disability support providers, teachers, childcare providers and police—to make sure that the support they're providing these families is integrated as best as it possibly can be. The social services package also includes $38.6 million towards the Outcomes and Evidence Fund to encourage incentive based and evidence based service delivery and deliver tangible and improved outcomes to support child and family safety.
The new Closing the Gap outcomes and targets together with the implementation plan support embedded cultural competency and trauma responsiveness training in the Indigenous and the non-Indigenous support sector. These new measures go to the heart of the new model of working together under the National Agreement on Closing the Gap and ensure that we work towards targets of accountability and genuine partnership.
The only way that we are going to close these gaps and make a difference is if we work together. That's why we are investing $3.2 million over the next two years to assess the needs, and increase the involvement, of Aboriginal community controlled organisations in the child and family support sector. By ensuring that these organisations play a central role in service provision, we'll improve cultural competency and make sure that it is embedded in all of our child and family services. Through the Outcomes and Evidence Fund, we will also be providing support proposals that have been identified by Aboriginal community controlled organisations that address the targets of both out-of-home care and family violence. This will involve a co-designed process between these organisations and the government. Not only will that improve support available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people but it demonstrates an absolute commitment to working together to solve this problem.
All governments share a responsibility in achieving the Closing the Gap outcomes and improving outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. That's why we, as a federal government, are investing $29 million to support states and territories to redesign their frontline services to address these two very important targets of out-of-home care and family violence. The redesigned service models will improve how practitioners work together to plan support for families, particularly those families that are at higher risk of interaction with state and territory child protection services. The focus here is on early intervention and ensuring that the right support is there for families in an integrated way. We also will be investing $7.7 million over the next three years to develop cultural competency and trauma responsiveness of both the Indigenous and non-Indigenous child and family workforce. These measures will ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families with complex needs have access to services.