The Carpenter Government has reaffirmed its commitment to protecting vulnerable children in Western Australia with a massive $185million boost to child protection services in the 2008-09 State Budget, Treasurer Eric Ripper said today.
Mr Ripper said Government spending would be 16.5 per cent more than last year and provided more front-line workers, extra residential care for young people and support the introduction of mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse.
The Treasurer said the funding increase demonstrated the Government’s commitment to the biggest overhaul of child protection operations in WA’s history.
“Combined with the more than $300million funding increase in the past two years, we have now committed more than $500million of new money to ensuring WA’s children are safer and better cared for than ever before,” he said.
“Following last year’s review of the former Department for Community Development, we made structural changes and invested significant further funding into protecting our children.”
Mr Ripper said a key feature of the Budget was $112million over four years to recruit more case workers across WA to support children in care, protect children from abuse and support families at risk.
“This will be complemented by another $4.9million to recruit extra front-line workers in remote communities, including Oombulgarri and Warmun in the East Kimberley,” he said.
Other Budget highlights for child protection included:
· $68million to implement mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse;
· $19.2million over four years for continuation of the Working with Children Screening Unit, set up in 2006 to screen people who work with children for criminal charges and convictions;
· $8.9million over four years to expand financial counselling services and another $7million for a new grants scheme to help people who are in financial stress and are having difficulty paying essential utility bills;
· $15 per fortnight increase to foster carers in recognition of the invaluable role foster carers play in the community; and
· $1.9million over four years for a safe house to accommodate teenage mothers and their children who are escaping domestic violence.
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