A. Stronger families and communities strategy
- A1. Stronger Families Fund Initiative
- A2. Early Intervention, Parenting and Family Relationship Support Initiative
- A3. Greater Flexibility and Choice in Child Care Initiative
- A4. Longitudinal Study of Australian Children Initiative
- A5. Potential Leadership in Local Communities Initiative
- A6. National Skills Development Program for Volunteers Initiative
- A7. Local Solutions to Local Problems Initiative
- A8. Can Do Community" Initiative
- A9. National Communication Campaign
- Return to What's New What's Different contents
The $240 million Stronger Families and Communities Strategy establishes new partnerships to strengthen families and communities. The strategy recognises that the best solutions are developed and delivered locally in partnership with others - local organisations, volunteers, businesses, communities, families, individuals and all levels of government.
Measures in this Budget will work to:
- strengthen families through investing in prevention and early intervention in three priority areas: early childhood and the needs of families with young children, strengthening marriage and family relationships, and balancing work and family.
- strengthen communities through investing in community capacity to solve problems and grasp opportunities. It will support communities to find local solutions to local problems; develop community leadership; promote best practice in communities and support volunteers to develop skills.
The Strategy will be based on a robust and objective framework drawing upon a range of data including benchmarking and key performance indicators, developed in cooperation with the Department of Finance and Administration.
The Strategy encompasses nine new measures that are designed so that they will work well on the ground. These measures will commence in 2000-2001.
- The Stronger Families Fund Initiative will focus on developing new and better ways to strengthen families with an emphasis on early childhood and parenting.
- The Early Intervention, Parenting and Family Relationship Support Initiative will strengthen families. It will provide services and activities such as parenting support and playgroups; marriage and relationship education. It will also provide family counselling with a focus on regional Australia and support for legal, medical and other professionals in their support for families.
- The Greater Flexibility and Choice in Child Care Initiative will improve choices for families by providing more flexible and innovative child care services.
- For the first time, a Longitudinal Study of Australian Children will be conducted. This study will be an invaluable tool in the development of Government policy on early childhood and effective early intervention and prevention strategies, in the areas of health, education, child care and family support.
- The Potential Leadership in Local Communities Initiative will boost skills and support for potential community leaders in socially disadvantaged areas and to those active in the community outside industry and government structures.
- The National Skills Development Program for Volunteers Initiative will support the celebration of the International Year of the Volunteer (2001) as well as enable people to gain the skills needed to support programs which rely heavily on volunteers.
- The Local Solutions to Local Problems Initiative will support communities to build their own capacity through small cost effective approaches such as providing establishment costs for self-help services.
- The Can Do Community Initiative will showcase Australian best practice with real life examples of how to revitalise communities, and encourage people to participate in community life.
- A National Communication Campaign will reinforce the significance of good parenting and strong family relationships to our children's lives, our communities and Australia's future.
The Strategy will encourage families and communities to tell government what works and doesn't work for them in their particular location or circumstances. It will also provide more flexibility for government to respond to local concerns.
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A1. Stronger families and communities strategy - Stronger Families Fund Initiative
1 January 2001
A Stronger Families Fund will be established, to encourage communities to develop new and better ways to strengthen families with an emphasis on early childhood and parenting. Projects will be established in a significant number of communities across Australia. These projects will help build knowledge about how communities can develop early intervention and prevention approaches to ensure they work to best effect.
In many communities, services are fragmented. They may be provided in a way that does not meet families' needs, or they may not exist. The provision of funds to coordinate effort in local communities across community services, education, health and other sectors and across various government initiatives will strengthen both families and communities. Funds could be used for salaries of local workers, research and administrative support, and small local projects.
Neighbourhoods and communities will identify pressing issues for families in their local area and develop local solutions that might cross a range of areas, for example, parenting, family relationships, education, health, crime, problem gambling and suicide prevention. Projects will focus on prevention and early intervention with a particular emphasis on early childhood and parenting.
Community, government and business partners will work together at the local level to more effectively support and assist families. They will primarily focus on making better use of existing infrastructure and networks and be able to draw on the Stronger Families Fund to identify and fill gaps in support to families.
Projects will build on existing infrastructure such as health and childcare centres, schools, playgroups, workplaces, churches, sporting and recreational clubs. Supporting partnerships between local residents, volunteers and paid professionals from business, government and non-government organisations will be an integral part of this approach.
All projects supported by the Fund will be evaluated so as to develop a robust body of knowledge on the effectiveness of early intervention and prevention in the families arena. There has been little of this research undertaken in Australia to date. To assist in the evaluations and in the dissemination of their findings, the Fund will establish a National Clearing House.
Funding: $40 million over four years
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A2. Stronger families and communities strategy - Early Intervention, Parenting and Family Relationship Support Initiative
1 July 2000 onwards
The Early Intervention, Parenting and Family Relationship Support Initiative will strengthen families. The initiative will provide services and activities such as parenting support and playgroups; marriage and relationship education. It will also provide family counselling with a focus on regional Australia and support for legal, medical and other professionals in their support for families. It responds to emerging needs including those identified through the Stronger Families Fund.
This measure draws upon an emerging evidence base which illustrates the benefits to families and the wider community of prevention and early intervention in family problems. This can be achieved through access and exposure to parenting, and family relationship skills, linking families within communities, and assisting professionals who frequently encounter at-risk families, to identify and assist families as early as possible.
Elements included in this measure are:
- boosting parenting skills through offering Family Skills Training in more locations. These will focus on separated families and step-families;
- establishing more playgroups in rural and regional areas and helping families with children with special needs to access playgroups. This will link families within communities as well as support early childhood development;
- providing relationship education in new and more responsive ways and developing relationship education materials in more relevant formats, and tailored to the changes in people's lives;
- providing early intervention support to families in rural and regional communities by making available family counselling services as part of the Department of Transport and Regional Services' Regional Communities Program; and
- developing and providing training resources for legal, medical and other professionals to help them identify, assist and refer individuals and families to needed support.
Community links and networks will be established through implementation of the measure in association with the Stronger Families Fund. In particular, regional and rural communities will benefit from the provision of more playgroups, family counselling services and more accessible family relationship education.
Funding: $47.3 million over four years
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A3. Stronger families and communities strategy - Greater Flexibility and Choice in Child Care Initiative
1 July 2000 for Quality Assurance
1 July 2000 for Incentives for Rural and Regional areas
1 January 2001 for Flexible Child Care
1 January 2001 for Private Family Day Care and Outside School Hours Care
This package of measures will improve families' ability to access and choose child care that meets their needs. The measures support parents in balancing paid work, education, community activities and parenting responsibilities through flexible and responsive child care. Shift workers, families working non-standard hours, those who have a sick child or who live in rural areas without access to care will particularly gain through this initiative. The choice of child care services for families will be increased through the introduction of a subsidy for in-home care and incentives for rural and regional service provision, supported by common standards of quality.
There is a demand for more flexible child care from families whose needs are not met from existing services, including families in rural and remote locations and sole parents working shifts or non-standard hours. This initiative will enable families who are not currently accessing formal child care services to do so.
While child care demand is well met in most metropolitan and large regional centres, there are still a number of rural communities where there is unmet demand. The provision of incentives will assist in attracting privately operated long day care centres to these areas.
The introduction of private Family Day Care schemes and Outside School Hours Care contributes to a level playing field across the child care sector. It will improve equity between private and community-based services with the view to enhancing competition.
Extending the quality assurance system for child care to Family Day Care and Outside School Hours Care will provide parents with greater certainty about the quality of care being provided to their children. Parents will have greater confidence in their choice of care arrangements to suit their needs.
Funding: $65.4 million over four years
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A4. Stronger families and communities strategy - Longitudinal Study of Australian Children Initiative
For the first time a national Longitudinal Study of Australian Children will be conducted. This 9 year study will be an invaluable tool in the development of Government policy on early childhood and effective early intervention and prevention strategies in the areas of health, education, child care and family support. This will address a major gap in knowledge and information and will assist the further development of sound social policy in Australia.
The importance of early childhood to outcomes in later life has been proven by research and is recognised by professionals who work with children in health and education settings. In Australia there has been little research focusing on the effects of various settings and interventions on the development of young children and no comprehensive longitudinal study has been undertaken. This study will enable evaluation of the longer-term impact of childhood interventions on education, health, employment, crime and social problems.
Similar overseas studies have contributed significantly to the development of public policy. They have helped identify early intervention strategies which help produce healthy and positive outcomes in adult life which have their origins in early childhood. Data from a national Australian study is essential to reflect Australian social conditions and infrastructure and to form the basis for evaluating interventions. Results will be of value nationally and internationally.
Funding: $6.1 million over the next four years
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A5. Stronger families and communities strategy - Potential Leadership in Local Communities Initiative
1 July 2000
This initiative will identify and support potential community leaders who live in socially disadvantaged areas and come from outside industry and government structures. Once fully phased-in, it will involve up to 400 communities in a leadership program and network; and will develop between 1600-2400 leaders who will work on projects of benefit to their local community. Through a youth cadetship program, covering a variety of cadetships, approximately 10,000 young people in over 200 communities will be funded to participate in community activities.
This measure will seek to identify potential community leaders in socially disadvantaged areas and those active in the community outside industry and government structures (for example, in community associations). It will offer skills and support through a coaching program that will assist them to tackle local problems and to find local solutions. The cadetship program might include for example, cadetships with emergency services, surf life saving, environmental activity, police, defence or Red Cross.
This measure will provide : a program to develop and link new and emerging leaders who will learn new ways to engage people in community building projects; a youth cadets program to help re-engage youth to their community; a national community leadership conference to promote networks and share local solution approaches; and a networking activity to stimulate exchange of 'local solutions to local problems' projects.
Funding: $37.1 million over four years
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A6. Stronger families and communities strategy - National Skills Development Program for Volunteers Initiative
1 July 2000
This initiative will help people involved in volunteer work build skills and will celebrate the International Year of Volunteers.
During 2001, communities will be able to select from a range of activities to celebrate the International Year of Volunteers, including promotion of volunteer activity, greater recognition of volunteers and initiatives to foster volunteer efforts in regional and rural communities.
This measure will also enable people to gain the skills needed to support programs which rely heavily on volunteers. It will provide on-going specific skills training (eg counselling, working with people with disabilities, interviewing techniques, financial management for board members etc) necessary for volunteers to provide a better standard of service to the community group with which they are involved.
The United Nations has designated 2001 the International Year of Volunteers. This ongoing measure funds activities to run in a range of communities not only to promote and celebrate the International Year of Volunteers but also to leave a lasting and concrete contribution to the voluntary sector.
Funding: $15.8 million over four years
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A7. Stronger families and communities strategy - Local Solutions to Local Problems Initiative
1 July 2000
This initiative will assist communities to find local solutions to local problems. It will fund in excess of 500 projects over the next four years in recognition of the great diversity in communities and potential local responses.
Local solutions will depend on each community's needs and could include:
- converting unused buildings into community facilities;
- providing establishment costs for self-help services such as food cooperatives and food banks;
- developing community resources, particularly human resources, through access to training (for example 'how to involve local people in community activities', 'how to run community groups – basic meeting processes');
- linking communities and people who are tackling similar issues in their community, involving mentoring programs;
- providing facilitators and advice services (volunteering, business and family advice); and
- providing IT training and support for individuals to seek information or contribute to information about their community.
Research, both in Australia and overseas, indicates that often the best assistance for communities to build their own capacity is through small cost effective flexible approaches, tailored to a community's own situation. This measure provides strategically targeted grants for community identified activities that will respond directly to community needs. Potential projects will be required to meet established criteria, such as demonstrated high community need and demonstrated support for the project from multiple government and non-government agencies as well as service users and project participants.
Funding: $15.5 million over four years
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A8. Stronger families and communities strategy - Can Do Community Initiative
1 July 2000
The "Can Do Community" initiative will showcase Australian best practice and encourage people to participate in community life. It will:
- identify and promote best practice examples of local solutions to local problems using mechanisms such as interactive information technology, community events, workshops, field days and a media campaign;
- develop a project ideas bank;
- encourage people to get involved in their community;
- network community leaders and community builders; and
- publicly recognise best practice examples of collaborative community actions which effectively address local issues.
This measure will showcase Australian best practice and 'how to' examples of community revitalisation. There are many examples of innovative and effective community-based initiatives that help to strengthen community resilience and ability to address local social and economic problems. By providing communities with access to new ideas and contacts they will be able to develop their own local solutions to local problems.
Funding: $5.2 million over four years
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A9. Stronger families and communities strategy - National Communication Campaign
July 2000 with a major television campaign planned in the first two years.
A broad multi-media communications strategy will promote the elements of the Stronger Families and Communities Strategy to the broader community and promote local partnerships that support families in their communities and workplaces. It will reinforce the significance of good parenting and strong family relationships to our children's lives, our communities and Australia's future.
The communications campaign will underpin the Stronger Families and Communities Strategy and assist to achieve outcomes such as a reduction in family breakdown and family violence, crime, suicide and drug dependency. It will also seek to influence increased school retention rates, work force attachment and greater family self-reliance.
The strategy will target particular audiences through a range of media including television, radio, print and the Internet.
Funding: $8 million over four years