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Thursday 1 April 2021
Dear sector colleagues,
It’s been two years in the making and now I’m pleased to share that we’ve reached an important milestone in our reform of the Child and Family Support System.
South Australia’s most vulnerable families on the cusp of entering the child protection system will receive more support than ever before thanks to new Intensive Family Services, which commenced this week.
This landmark reform would not have been possible if it weren’t for the invaluable input and collaboration from the sector to design a new system together. This co-design process saw us engage with close to 1000 people from across government and non-government organisations, Aboriginal organisations, research partners, service practitioners and people who have their own experience of the child protection system.
As you may be aware, DHS is responsible for leading the design and delivery of a new Child and Family Support System as part of the South Australian Government’s Safe and Well: Supporting families, protecting children strategy. Following extensive consultation and research, led by DHS’ Early Intervention Research Directorate, we have refocused our efforts on intervening earlier, and more intensively, with the aim of turning the tide and outcomes for South Australia’s most vulnerable families. We know that if we can identify and help families earlier in their struggles, we can make a more profound difference. And that’s what we’re going to do.
Intensive Family Services will be delivered by seven not-for-profit organisations, including two run by Aboriginal people for Aboriginal families. It sees a record investment of $52 million over the next four years, including close to $5 million in new funding specifically for our regional areas. Services will be delivered across the state, including North, South, East and Western Adelaide, as well as regions including the Murray and Mallee, Yorke Peninsula and Mid North, Limestone Coast, Barossa, Light and Lower North, Eyre and Western, Fleurieu and Kangaroo Island, Far North and the Adelaide Hills.
The innovative new approach will focus on reducing child abuse and neglect by providing more tailored support services to families at risk of entering the child protection system. Trained and dedicated support staff will work specifically with these families to improve the safety and wellbeing of children and address issues that will enable children to stay at home safely, in community and culture.
We all know that change, even when we know the outcome will be better, can be difficult for parties involved. But in this instance, I have never seen such broad endorsement, agreement and acceptance of a change as significant as this one. This is testament to the participation of our sector partners and my sincere thanks go to all of you for your contributions throughout this process. Together, we’ve created a system based on evidence, best practice and the voices of those it will support, that will make a real difference in the lives of many.
I’m sure we can all agree that all children in South Australia deserve to grow up in a safe, loving home, amongst their community and culture. Intensive Family Services will bring South Australian children closer to this outcome.
On the eve of the long weekend, I acknowledge the many frontline support staff in our sector who will continue to work over Easter providing essential services across areas of domestic violence, disability, homelessness, child protection and youth justice, and recognise their dedication and commitment to our community.
Have a safe and happy Easter.