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For the Big Budget News. Wait for the Inquiry.

by PeakCare Qld on 6th June 2013

Home -> Articles -> 2013 -> June -> For the Big Budget News. Wait for the Inquiry.

While the state budget announced on Tuesday 4th June contained some news for the child protection sector, it is expected that we will need to wait for the Child Protection Inquiry to conclude before we find out more about ways in which the Government can better invest its financial resources in creating an improved child protection system.

It’s PeakCare’s view that the Government has behaved appropriately in not pre-empting the findings of the Inquiry or by making major changes to budget allocations that might then restrict its capacity to properly consider any budgetary implications that might arise out of the Inquiry’s recommendations.

There were nevertheless some items of importance to child protection included within the budget. These included:

an allocation of $25.1 million over 4 years ($5.5 million in 2013/14) for foster and kinship carer allowances to meet demand from increasing numbers of children living in out-of-home care

an allocation of $117.2 million over 4 years to support young adults with a disability who are exiting state care and assist them in the continuation of their lives in their communities

an allocation of $6.5 million to fund extra respite for young people aged 16 to 25 years who have high needs disabilities

an allocation of $15.2 million over 4 years to continue the Emergency Relief program and continue support to 13 Neighbourhood Centres formerly funded under the Community Development initiative

an allocation of $7.4 million to continue the Youth Support Coordinator initiative to support at-risk young people during the 2013 school year leading into a transfer of responsibilities for the administration of this initiative from the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services to the Department of Education, Training and Employment at the start of 2014

continuation of funding ($2 million per annum over 2 years) allocated to the Fostering Families trial targeting issues of child neglect and assisting children to remain safely in the care of their own families (Advice from the government indicates that to date, over 100 families have been referred to Fostering Families, equating to around 400 individual family members)

continuation of the government’s funding promise to provide 24 hour 7 days a week telephone counselling support for children and young people from regional and remote areas, and

continuation of funding allocated to specialist counselling services currently being provided for children in areas surrounding Cairns, Atherton, Innisfail and Yarrabah, who have experienced child abuse and sexual assault.

Capital works allocations include:

An allocation of $3.3 million to complete construction of residential care facilities already commenced in Atherton, Capalaba West and Highfields (Toowoomba)

$1.8 million under the services for Indigenous Communities Project to continue establishing Safe Houses in the Torres Strait, and

$1.2 million to deliver the capital component of the Safe Haven program operating in the communities of Mornington Island, Coen, Cherbourg and Palm Island.

The budget has been produced based on the following projections:

an increase in the rate of substantiated harm per 1,000 children (0-17 years of age) from 6.6 in 2012-13 to 7.0 in 2013-14, and

an increase in the rate of children subject to protective orders per 1,000 children (0-17 years of age) from 8.5 in 2012-13 to 8.8 in 2013-14.

In respect of the estimated rate of children subject to protective orders, the projections indicate:

an increase in the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children subject to these orders from 48.0 per 1,000 children in 2012-13 to 49.0 in 2013-14, and

an increase in the rate of other children subject to these orders from 5.7 per 1,000 in 2012-13 to 5.9 in 2013-14.

The budget papers indicate that in 2012-13, 34% of children on a care and protection order exited care after 12 months or more and had 1 or 2 placements. The budget estimates indicate no change to this proportion (ie. 34%) during 2013-14.

PeakCare is very much looking forward to the day when in place of annual projections of increasing rates of substantiated harm and children who are subject to protective orders, we will see these rates reducing as over-reliance on the tertiary system lessens. PeakCare is hoping, and I’m sure that the Government is similarly hopeful, that this will eventually be an outcome obtained from the Inquiry.

Lindsay Wegener

Executive Director, PeakCare

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