Australian Government, 2012‑13 Budget

The Building Blocks

Early Childhood

With this Budget, the Government continues its significant investment in early childhood, recognising that this is a critical time in every person's development and that it lays the foundations for strong outcomes in health, education and employment later in life.

Early childhood investments also form an integral part of our plan to help build Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory.

2012—13 Budget initiatives to close the gap in early childhood

Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory — Supporting Children, Youth and Families

The Australian Government is investing more than $442 million over ten years to strengthen the safety and wellbeing of Aboriginal children, youth and their families in the Northern Territory. This funding will support families with playgroups, home and parenting support services, youth workers and safe houses for the next decade.

Under this initiative, the number of Communities for Children sites in the Northern Territory will increase from four to 19, with a focus on remote locations. This approach encourages existing health, education and community organisations to get together to plan and deliver local parenting services, playgroups, and support to help people build healthy homes.

It also includes funding for another ten years for:

  • eight existing supported and intensive playgroups to help develop children's social, emotional, physical and cognitive abilities
  • Intensive Family Support Services in up to 23 communities, for practical parenting help where children are at risk of entering the child protection system
  • continuing support for 16 women's safe houses in urban and remote areas to protect women and children through crisis accommodation and support
  • continuing the Youth In Communities Program in more than 30 remote communities to keep young people connected with school or training and help prevent youth suicide, self–harm, and alcohol and substance abuse.

The Government is also continuing to invest in front line child protection through two mobile child protection teams. These teams provide 25 extra front line workers to support Northern Territory child protection officers so more investigations can occur in remote and regional communities to make sure more children are safe. An extra 12 part–time Aboriginal family and community workers will also be funded across 19 remote communities — on top of the current 35 full time workers, this will mean a total of 47 family and community workers in remote Northern Territory. These local workers inform and support people in communities to prevent child abuse and neglect.

This funding also includes ongoing support for nine crèches in very remote Indigenous communities through a $30.2 million allocation over ten years. These crèches will continue to play an important role in better preparing up to 225 children for school.

Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters (HIPPY)

The Government is providing $55.7 million to 2015–16 to expand the HIPPY program to 100 sites across Australia. This initiative will provide on–going funding for 50 Indigenous locations, with the first cohort of Indigenous children commencing in January 2014. This funding will also extend HIPPY for one additional cohort of children in the existing 50 locations, commencing in January 2013. HIPPY is a home–based parenting and early childhood program that runs for two years and helps Indigenous and non–Indigenous parents to be their child's first teacher and prepare their child for school. It also offers some parents and carers a supported pathway to employment and local community leadership.

These new initiatives strengthen the investments the Government has already put in place to support Indigenous early childhood development.

The National Partnership Agreement on Early Childhood Education provides $970.0 million from 2008—09 to 2012—13 to ensure that by 2013 every Australian child, including Indigenous children, can access a pre–school program delivered by a university‑qualified early childhood education teacher in the 12 months prior to full‑time schooling.

The National Partnership Agreement on Indigenous Early Childhood Development provides a further $564.4 million over six years from 2008‑09 to 2013‑14 to improve outcomes for Indigenous children. Under the agreement, states and territories are establishing 38 Children and Family Centres by mid–2014 to deliver integrated early childhood services for Indigenous families, including childcare, early learning and parent and family support. The centres also link to other services for children and families at risk.

The Australian Government is also implementing a range of initiatives which are not specific to Indigenous children, but will have a positive effect on their lives. These include:

  • The National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children — an ambitious, long–term national approach which aims to deliver a substantial and sustained reduction in levels of child abuse and neglect
  • The National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care — which commits to high quality early childhood education and care through improved standards and increased qualification requirements
  • The Family Support Program — which assists vulnerable and at–risk families across Australia.

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