The Coalition has promised an expenditure of $50.5 million to take on child abuse in Victoria, if it wins next month's election. The claims made say that the aim would be to try for early intervention, aimed at reducing the rates of abuse. This would include $16 million in intensive ante and postnatal support for at risk mothers from pre-birth until a child is four years of age. Abuse teenagers under care would also be eligible for financial help up to the age of 25. The legislation currently allows for the state to help young people up to the age of 21, but experts in the sector say this is done in a haphazard way and many young people do not get any help at all after they turn 18. As part of the opposition's strategy to prevent abuse, mental health, drug and alcohol and family violence, services would also be required to target the children of vulnerable parents.
According to a Community Services Spokeswoman, Mary Wooldridge, a judicial review would be carried out to find ways of improving on child protection system. She said, “The government has had a crisis driven approach… There's chronic problems in child protection across the board and they do endless short term patch ups particularly responsive simply to media coverage of the day… We're putting in place a long term strategy here to try and reduce inter-generational abuse.”
The Coalition government led by Ted Baillieu is set to make this their key election issue.
Child Safety Commissioner Bernie Geary cited from his experience over 37 years that these services were linked to available resources. “It's healthy that child protection is being seen as a predominant political issue and what we're really interested in here is solutions… It would be a pity to see these kids being used as a football in the game of politics,” he said.
Organizations like the Centre for Excellence, Berry Street, Domestic Violence Victoria, the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency and Community Child Care Victoria, are looking forward to whoever wins the election to develop a vulnerable children's framework and guarantee the safety of all children removed from their families and set up an Office for Children.