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The critical importance of early years investment

Posted by Kerrie Gottliebsen | 21/08/14

The recent release of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare annual report Child protection Australia 2012-13, reinforces the importance of investing in early intervention and prevention says Tweddle CEO Jacquie O’Brien.

The data revealed a consistent picture of very high demand pressures across all aspects of child protection and out of home care in Victoria with record levels of reports, substantiations of children at risk of harm and children placed in out of home care.

“Tweddle work with families who are not coping with the pressures of parenting, as well as families with Child Protection involvement. The report found there was a significant increase in the number of children found to be at risk in Victoria and every day we speak with parents whose children are in exactly this predicament” said Ms O’Brien.

Reports about vulnerable children from professionals and community members in Victoria increased by 15 per cent between 2011-12 and 2012-13 compared to eight per cent growth nationally. Victoria’s growth in reports was the highest rate of growth of all the States

Ms O Brien acknowledged that recent reforms impacting on the social services sector were aimed at ameliorating the increasing pressure on out of home care and other support services. She stressed that more work is still needed to be done to target interventions.

“Educating families earlier, before children are at risk, should be a governmental policy imperative. Vulnerable parents need to know how they can make a difference with practical parenting skills” said Ms O’Brien

“Strengthening the family unit, building resilience, knowing about the importance of a child’s early brain development, increasing parenting confidence and knowing about risk and protective factors can be the difference between a parent that can support healthy development of a child and a parent that cannot"

Ms O'Brien agreed that It makes more sense from an individual’s perspective, from a community's perspective and from an economic perspective to invest in services like Tweddle's with expertise across the pre birth to 3 years age range and improve the trajectory of life outcomes by improving the infant mother/parent interactions as opposed to trying to address the multiplicity of issues that arise from abuse and neglect.”

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