Although we’re hearing a lot about the economy, asylum seekers, “jobs & growth“, climate change, negative gearing, health and education during this looooong federal election campaign, it is heartening to see that out-of-home care and supporting young people leaving care are emerging as issues.
The Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare launched its #KidsFirst campaign in May, calling on political parties to make the welfare of children and young people a priority. They have come up with 7 priority policies that will help protect Australia’s most vulnerable children. To get involved, you can email your local MPs asking them to support these policies and put kids first.
Another issue competing for airtime this election campaign is redress for survivors of institutional abuse. This week, Francis Sullivan of the Catholic Church’s Truth Justice and Healing Council predicted that the ‘redress will stay in the bottom drawer‘ during this campaign. Despite the widespread support for redress, there is frustration about the lack of political momentum for taking action on the recommendations of the Royal Commission final report on redress from September 2015.
During this election campaign, CLAN has been working hard to lobby politicians to support a National Independent Redress Scheme.
— CLAN (@CLAN_AU) May 18, 2016
On the first day of the election campaign, a group of organisations called for bipartisan commitment to funding a national redress scheme.
With just over a month to go until the poll, we thought it was worth taking a moment to check out the policies of the three major political parties (presented here in strict alphabetical order!).
The Greens have announced a policy for reducing the number of Aboriginal children in out of home care, committing $20m over four years.
The Greens support the establishment of a national redress scheme for survivors of child sexual abuse in institutional settings, providing redress payments and counselling and psychological support.
The Greens have also recently called for measures to be taken to help young people leaving care, by doubling the allowance paid to young people transitioning from out-of-home care to independent living.
The Green’s full Child Protection and Out of Home Care policy (last updated 2014) specifically mentions Forgotten Australians.
Australian Labor Party
The ALP responded to a letter from the #KidsFirst campaign, setting out 10 of its policies relating to children and families.
Labor has committed to implementing the Royal Commission’s recommendation for a national redress scheme and would contribute $33m to making it happen.
Liberal Party of Australia
I found no mention of redress or out of home care on the Liberal Party’s election policies webpage. If I’ve missed something in my research, I’m very happy to be proved wrong if anyone can provide more information.
In January this year, Minister for Social Services Christian Porter announced that the government had carefully considered the Royal Commission’s report on Redress and Civil Litigation and that it was starting consultations ‘to carefully work through the many complex issues’:
The Commonwealth’s starting point for these discussions is that governments and non-government institutions should take essential responsibility for the wrongs committed under their care. The Commonwealth’s general view – to be advised by the impending negotiations – is that, while substantial responsibility for the operation of the redress process will reside with the jurisdiction in which the offending institution was or is located, it is essential all governments commit to core principles and processes for the assessment and payment of redress.
Accordingly, the Commonwealth will seek the cooperation of the States and Territories to develop a nationally consistent approach to redress through an agreed set of national principles.
I wasn’t able to find any relevant policies on the Nationals’ website. I would welcome any further information.
Hang in there, everyone – it’s not long to go now. To pass the time until the Big Day, why not get involved by contacting candidates in your electorate or state and let them know what issues are important to you? And don’t forget to buy a sausage or a cake to support local schools and community organisations on polling day.