26 September 2023

DSS working on a strategy for kids

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The Department of Social Services (DSS) is developing a new strategy to shape its vision for the future of Australia’s children and their families.

Announcing the Early Years Strategy, DSS said it recognised how critical the early years were for children’s development and continued success over their lifetime, “the Strategy will aim to deliver the best possible outcomes for Australian children”.

“The Strategy will help the Commonwealth create a more integrated, holistic approach to the early years and better support the education, wellbeing and development of Australia’s children,” DSS said.

“It will seek to support improving coordination between Commonwealth programs, funding and frameworks impacting early childhood development,” it said.

“There will be many opportunities for all Australians to have their say on an Early Years Strategy, to make sure the needs of children and families are at the centre of the development of the Strategy, and all Government early childhood policy.”

National Children’s Commissioner Anne Hollonds welcomed the announcement, saying the Strategy would be an opportunity for cross-portfolio systems reform, “recognising that children and their families do not exist in one policy silo”.

Commissioner Hollonds has been appointed to the Advisory Panel that will advise on development of the Early Years Strategy.

“Rather, their needs stretch across numerous portfolios including health, education, social services, Indigenous affairs, and others,” Commissioner Hollonds said.

“Child and family policy is extremely complex, and real reform has long been neglected because of this complexity and the barriers to implementing recommendations from decades of Royal Commissions and inquiries,” she said.

“Australia ranks a low 32nd out of 38 OECD countries on child wellbeing.

“We have lacked a sense of urgency for systems reform for child health, development, learning and wellbeing.”

Commissioner Hollonds said Australia now had an opportunity to prioritise child wellbeing and begin a long-term process of redesigning the systems that were failing children and their families, especially those living with disadvantage.

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