Better futures for local families

Families in and around Bankstown will have extra help to provide a safe, happy and healthy environment for their children.

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The Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin and the Member for Blaxland, Jason Clare, today visited the Chester Hill Kindergarten and Childcare Centre and announced the Smith Family will deliver a new Communities for Children service in the local government area of Bankstown.

The Smith Family will receive almost $3.9 million over the next three years to deliver early intervention and prevention services for local families.

The new service will focus on supporting teenage parents and jobless families who are part of an Australian Government trial operating in ten communities across the country, including Bankstown.

Under this trial, teenage parents and jobless families on government payments will have new responsibilities as well as extra support to help them finish their education, prepare for work when their children are older, and make sure their children are getting the best start in life.

Bankstown was selected as a trial community due to the high rate of entrenched disadvantage, such as teenage parents and jobless families with young children.

Ms Macklin said the Smith Family will work with local parents to build their parenting skills and improve children’s health and early learning outcomes.

“We want to help vulnerable parents build a better future for themselves and their children,” Ms Macklin said.

“I don’t think it’s acceptable or fair for children to grow up in a home where they’ve never seen their parents work.

“Ensuring children have the opportunity to grow up happy and healthy and with the best start in life is central to breaking the cycle of disadvantage.”

Ms Macklin said Communities for Children services in other areas had helped to change the lives of parents and children – with marked improvements in children’s language skills, parents getting support to find work and mothers getting more involved in their local community.

Mr Clare said the local community would benefit from the boost to family and children’s services, as well as the new welfare approach.

“This is a great initiative. Education and a job are the key to success. If you grow up in a family where Mum and Dad both don’t work, you start life on the back foot,” Mr Clare said.

The Smith Family CEO, Lisa O’Brien said the funding for the Communities for Children service in Bankstown will help ensure that parents have the support they need to build a better future for their children.

“As the Facilitating Partner, we look forward to working with all levels of government, agencies and the community, to build the skills and confidence of parents and provide access to learning and development opportunities for families with young children,” Ms O’Brien said.

This new service will support teenage parents in Bankstown receiving Parenting Payment to meet new participation requirements starting on 1 January next year. New participation requirements and matching supports for jobless families start on 1 July 2012.

Targeted income management will also start on 1 July 2012 in Bankstown as part of the trial. Income management will apply to vulnerable families and individuals including:

  • Parents referred for income management by state or territory child protection authorities;
  • People who volunteer for income management;
  • People assessed by Centrelink social workers as being vulnerable to financial crisis which could include people referred by housing authorities who are at risk of homelessness due to rental arrears.

The Australian Government is investing $254.6 million over four years across the ten communities to trial this new approach.

For more information about the new approach the Government is taking in the ten trial locations visit:

http://www.fahcsia.gov.au/about/publicationsarticles/corp/BudgetPAES/budget11_12/Documents/FaHCSIA_Stakeholder_web.htm