Minister for Education Martin Dixon today joined social workers and community educators from Victoria and across the globe to launch the new Vulnerable Children Action Plan at the Joint World Conference on Social Work, Education and Social Development.
The plan details how early childhood, school education and vocational training services will deliver on the Government’s Victoria’s Vulnerable Children Strategy 2013-2022, released by Premier Denis Napthine last year.
“The Victorian Coalition Government is focused on supporting vulnerable children, in partnership with the Victorian community, and our education system will play a central role in identifying and addressing the cause and effect of childhood vulnerability,” Mr Dixon said.
“In 2010 the Protecting Victoria’s Vulnerable Children Inquiry found that the Victorian community needed new ways to identify and address potential danger, trauma and future disadvantage facing children and young people.
“For the first time there is now a whole-of-government strategy to ensure we act earlier when children are vulnerable, intervene to prevent abuse and neglect, and improve the lives of children in statutory care.”
Minister for Children and Early Childhood Development Wendy Lovell said better coordination and integration was the key to improving families’ access to important services, like maternal and child health care, and early childhood education.
“We are delivering stronger partnerships across all agencies, and targeting programs and services to support and engage vulnerable young people – including those in foster care or residential care,” Ms Lovell said.
Minister for Higher Education and Training Nick Wakeling said the plan also focused on keeping vulnerable young people engaged in education and training.
“Enabling young people to undertake further education and training – and giving them the skills and confidence they need to secure work can be a powerful means of breaking the cycle of disadvantage,” Mr Wakeling said.
Actions being undertaken include:
a review of Victoria’s maternal and child health system to make our high performing MCH system more efficient and effective;
an expansion of the Access to Early Learning Initiative to ensure more vulnerable children, particularly those known to child protection, receive regular, quality early years education;
a new trial in Whittlesea, Yarra Ranges and Latrobe to streamline antenatal and early years services to ensure children and families benefit from seamless care;
a new parenting plan to better equip vulnerable parents with positive parenting skills;
new suspension and expulsion guidelines to enable schools to better address challenging behaviour and promote safe, positive and respectful school environments;
a school-based respectful relationships program to shape positive attitudes around gender and sexuality and prevent aggressive behaviour;
training and resources to support teachers and allied health professionals to deal with vulnerability and trauma; and
continuing to ensure young people living in out-of-home care have access to free vocational training.
The Napthine Government has invested more than $900 million in vulnerable children and families since 2010.