Chapter 5 Outcome 1 - Families and Children

Outcome 1 at a glance

Improved child development, safety and family functioning through support services for all Australians, payments for low and medium income families with children and child support policy.

Outcome and programs

Figure 5.1 shows the Outcome 1 program structure.

Figure 5.1 Outcome 1 programs

Figure 5.1 Outcome 1 programs

Highlights

Program 1.1: Family Support

The objective of program 1.1 is to increase access to and timely provision of integrated services for families, particularly vulnerable and at‑risk families, to improve child development, safety and family functioning.

Before the start of the new Family Support Program, the program had the following components:

From 1 July 2011, the Government’s investment in family support services was streamlined from more than 20 family and children’s programs into four new activities. The reforms give services greater flexibility to respond to the needs of families and to better assist vulnerable and disadvantaged families, Indigenous families and those with multiple and complex needs. Around 160 projects previously funded under the Community Investment Program also transferred to the Family Support Program because of their strong focus on supporting families and children.

To assist in implementing the reforms, FaHCSIA held 21 consultations across 18 locations with providers and other stakeholders in the family services sector. New three-year funding agreements were offered to services to provide greater funding certainty while reducing administrative burden.

The four new family support services activities are:

As part of the Family Support Program redesign, FaHCSIA, in partnership with service providers, developed a draft performance framework to improve data collection. The Department invited all Family Relationship Services to participate in pilot testing of data collection methods in 2010, and conducted separate pilot testing with selected Children and Parenting Services in 2011. Consultants supported Family Relationship Services providers to collect data on longer-term client outcomes in 2010–11. The results contributed to the draft performance framework and refinement of program performance indicators. The new Family Support Program performance framework aims to:

Family Relationship Services

The objective of Family Relationship Services is to increase access to and timely provision of services for families, particularly disadvantaged and at-risk families, to improve family functioning, including safety, and reduce the impact of family breakdown, family violence and substance abuse.

Some Family Relationship Services, including Men and Family Relationship Services, Family Counselling, Specialised Family Violence Services and Adolescent Mediation and Family Therapy, have been jointly funded by FaHCSIA and the Attorney-General’s Department since 2006.

In 2010–11 the Kids in Focus services commenced in each state and territory. The new services provide intensive parenting support for children in families where parents have alcohol- or drug-related problems. In March 2011 Kids in Focus service practitioners and service staff met in Canberra for the first time to share knowledge and experiences.

In 2010–11, Family Support Drought Response Teams assisted almost 13,000 individuals in rural and regional Australia who were experiencing emotional and financial stress due to prolonged drought conditions. These teams operate in areas that have been declared as experiencing exceptional circumstances due to prolonged periods of drought. Teams comprise social workers, psychologists and community welfare workers who collaborate with other community service providers to ensure that clients receive holistic and integrated family relationship services. The Department worked closely with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry to enhance and better target services for drought-affected communities experiencing the greatest need.

As part of the Western Australian drought pilot in 2010–11, three Rural and Regional Family Support Service providers undertook outreach services and home visits to deliver whole-of-family services in rural and remote communities. The Rural and Regional Family Support Service has been very successful. At 31 May 2011, more than 2,200 individuals had received practical support, including counselling and crisis support, relationship education and skills training. Service providers engage with communities through activities that promote community cohesion, build networks and improve referral pathways.

The Think Family, Think Community initiative provided one-off grants to non-government organisations to run community-based events to promote positive family relationships between young people and their families. Events were held in 20 locations around Australia in 2010, many during National Youth Week and Families Week.

In 2010–11, 48 Indigenous family safety projects were funded throughout Australia. The projects assist Indigenous communities to help prevent child abuse, neglect and family violence, to break the cycle of family violence and prevent future harm, to provide support and skills acquisition for victims of family violence and to build safer Indigenous families and communities.

Children and Parenting Services

Children and Parenting Services provide intensive, targeted and coordinated support for parents and children who are vulnerable, at risk or in disadvantaged communities to improve child development, child safety and family functioning. These investments aim to build more resilient communities through responsive place-based services. The emphasis is on early intervention and prevention, and building capacity and skills in parenting.

Children and Parenting Services play a critical role particularly for parents and children aged from birth to 12 years in reducing barriers to effective parenting and building capacity and confidence to prepare children for school and their parents for work by building parenting skills and confidence and by ensuring that children are physically, developmentally and socially ready for school.

Children and Parenting Services also fund a range of universal information, early intervention and prevention services such as the Raising Children Network website and the Australia-wide network of playgroups. Playgroups promote children’s social, emotional, physical and intellectual development, and provide social and support networks for parents and caregivers to encourage and assist them in their parenting role.

The Communities for Children services include 49 Communities for Children sites (8 of these deliver Communities for Children Plus services), 35 Locational Supported Playgroups, 24 Intensive Support Playgroups, 51 Indigenous Parenting Support Services, 33 Indigenous Children’s Programs, 40 Responding Early Assisting Children services, and 53 Invest to Grow (including Child Care Links) projects.

Two new Communities for Children services opened in 2010–11. On 2 February 2011 Anglicare NT was funded as a facilitating partner in a new site based in Alice Springs. The service is playing an important role in the Alice Springs Transformation Plan. This brings the total number of Communities for Children services in the Northern Territory to four. On 19 April 2011 the Government opened a Communities for Children Plus service in Midland, Western Australia, bringing the total number of Communities for Children and Communities for Children Plus sites in Western Australia to seven.

In response to the flooding in Victoria and Queensland and Cyclone Yasi in Far North Queensland, the Government provided additional temporary funding of $660,000 for a number of Family Support Program service providers to deliver additional counselling, playgroup and parenting support services to affected communities.

A new Intensive Family Support Service was established in 2010–11 as part of a package of measures announced by the Australian Government in response to the Growing them strong, together report of the Board of Inquiry into the Child Protection System in the Northern Territory 2010. The new service provides intensive parenting support and education for clients referred by Northern Territory child protection workers. The $25 million service is being rolled out over four years in urban, regional and remote areas. Service providers are collaborating with the Parenting Research Centre and Menzies School of Research to develop an evidence-based model of service delivery that will inform family support intervention with Indigenous families.

National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children

The National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children, endorsed by COAG on 30 April 2009, is an ambitious, long-term approach to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of Australian children. It aims to deliver a substantial and sustained reduction in levels of child abuse and neglect.

Significant progress has been made in the first 18 months, including:

National Standards for Out-of-Home Care

In December 2010, Community and Disability Services Ministers agreed to 13 National Standards for Out-of-Home Care, to be introduced from July 2011. These national standards focus on key areas, including access to health, education and training, increased support for carers and enhanced transition planning for all young people.

In April 2011, ministers also agreed to a schedule of national measurement and public reporting arrangements for the national standards. Public reporting on the standards will be through the annual report to COAG. The standards will be the vehicle for driving continuous improvement and developing national consistency in reporting on outcomes for children and young people in out-of-home care.

Initial reporting in the next annual report to COAG will be based on five measures for which data is currently collected and reported nationally. Measures will be progressively introduced so that by 2015 there will be 22 measures reported against the full set of national standards.

Summary of performance

Table 5.1 summarises the Department’s results for program 1.1 against the key performance indicators published in the 2010–11 PB Statements.

Table 5.1 Program 1.1—key performance indicators

Key performance indicator Result
Family Relationship Servicesa/Children and Parenting Services
Percentage and number of clients reporting improved family functioning, including child wellbeing

This indicator measures program success in making a lasting difference in improving family functioning, including child wellbeing. It is based on self-reports 3–6 months after the end of the intervention.

Family Relationship Services:
93% of respondents (549) reported improved family functioning. A sample of 589 registered clients responded. b
Children and Parenting Services:
N/A c
Percentage and number of clients with improved knowledge and skills related to family functioning, parenting, family safety or child development

This indicator measures program success in making an immediate difference in increasing client knowledge and skills related to family functioning, parenting, family safety or child development. It is based on self-reports at the end of the intervention.

Family Relationship Services:
96.5% of respondents (14,430) reported increased knowledge and skills.
A sample of 14,957 registered clients responded.
Children and Parenting Services:
89.1% of respondents (48,739) reported increased knowledge and skills.
A sample of 54,696 clients responded.
Percentage and number of clients satisfied with assistance received

This indicator measures client satisfaction with services received. It is based on self-reports at the end of the intervention.

Family Relationship Services:
97.1% of respondents (14,927) reported satisfaction with the support services received.
A sample of 15,382 registered clients responded.
Children and Parenting Services:
93.2% of clients (123,009) reported satisfaction with the support services received.
A sample of 131,988 clients responded.
Percentage and number of clients assisted from priority groups

This indicator measures the program’s ability to attract and engage priority groups and is taken from the number of registered clients of Early Intervention Services and the number of Children and Parenting Services participants.

Family Relationship Services:
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander: 4.8% (5,455)
Culturally and linguistically diverse: 4.7% (5,363)
Children: 9.2% (10,369)
Men: 40.3% (45,614)
Children and Parenting Services:
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander: 12.4% (67,829)
Culturally and linguistically diverse: 9.5% (52,316)
Children: 54.6% (299,726)
Percentage and number of service sites in the most disadvantaged or targeted communities

This indicator measures the reach of the program into disadvantaged communities. It is based on the two most disadvantaged deciles of the Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas index of disadvantage.

Family Relationship Services:
N/A d
Children and Parenting Services:
44.2% of service sites (962) are located in the most disadvantaged or targeted communitiese
  1. Includes Family Counselling services, which are jointly funded by FaHCSIA and the Attorney-General’s Department.
  2. A statistically significant sampling methodology was used.
  3. Available for Family Relationship Services only. Based on a successful pilot conducted in 2010–11, the survey has been extended to incorporate all of the Family Support Program in 2011–12.
  4. Not relevant for Family Relationship Services as these are not locationally based.
  5. Data from locationally based Children and Parenting Services July–December 2010.

Table 5.2 summarises the Department’s results for program 1.1 against the deliverables published in the 2010–11 PB Statements.

Table 5.2 Program 1.1—deliverables

Deliverable Result
Family Relationship Services
Number of clients assisted a

113,181 registered

124,477 unregistered

51,308 Mensline calls

Children and Parenting Services
Number of clients assisted b 549,105
Find and Connect
An agreed Find and Connect Service delivery model is developed and commenced Comprehensive capacity building in the sector, driven by Government, is required in the short-term. This will enable the Government’s Find and Connect vision to be implemented, through a phased approach, over the next 12 months.
Strategies are in place that support improved access by care leavers to their records The Find and Connect web resource will be launched in 2011–12.
  1. As at 15 August 2011. Figures include Family Counselling services, which are jointly funded by FaHCSIA and the Attorney-General’s Department.
  2. Includes both engagement with low-intensity services, such as community playgroups, and more intensive assistance, such as Responding Early Assisting Children.

Program 1.2: Family Tax Benefit

The objective of program 1.2 is to make payments to assist low- and medium-income families with the costs of raising dependent children.

The program has the following components:

An estimated 73 per cent of families with children aged under 16 were eligible for Family Tax Benefit (FTB), and around 71 per cent of families were eligible for FTB A and 59 per cent for Family Tax Benefit Part B (FTB B).*

Over the course of a year, FTB helped approximately 7 million people (parents and children), or roughly a third of the total population.‡

Family Tax Benefit Part A

The objective of FTB A is to make payments to assist low- and medium-income families with the costs of raising dependent children. The payments support better family functioning by improving the financial wellbeing of low- and medium-income families with children.

FTB A is the primary family assistance payment and is paid in respect of each eligible child to assist families with the direct cost of raising their children. Eligibility for FTB A is based on the combined income of a family (families that receive income support are not income tested) to ensure that family assistance is targeted to low- and medium-income families.

Family Tax Benefit Part B

The objective of FTB B is to make payments to assist low- and medium-income families with one main income, including single parents, to enable them to exercise choices to balance labour force participation and child care responsibilities.

FTB B is paid, on a per family basis, to single-parent or couple families in which the second earner’s income is low. Eligibility for FTB B is limited to families in which the primary earner has an income of $150,000 or less. Eligible single-parent families receive the maximum rate. The level of assistance paid for eligible couple families is determined by the secondary earner income test.

Summary of performance

Table 5.3 summarises the Department’s results for program 1.2 against the key performance indicators published in the 2010–11 PB Statements for FTB A and FTB B.

Table 5.3 Program 1.2—key performance indicators

Key performance indicator Result
Family Tax Benefit Part A and Part B
Total number of recipients 2 million families for 2008–09 entitlement year
Percentage and number of recipients paid by instalment 1,887,000 (92%) of customers were entitled to fortnightly payments for the 2008–09 entitlement year
Percentage and number of recipients paid by lump sum 156,000 (8%) of customers were entitled to a lump-sum payment for the 2008–09 entitlement year
Proportion and amount of administered outlays paid by instalment and by lump sum $17.3 billion (96%) of administered outlays paid by instalment and $673 million (4%) paid as a lump sum  
Percentage and number of recipients obtaining a qualification debt 104,000 customers (5%) of the total FTB instalment population for the 2008–09 entitlement year had a qualification debt
Percentage and number of recipients obtaining a debt following reconciliation 161,000 customer (7%) of the total FTB population for the 2008–09 entitlement year had a reconciliation debt
Percentage and number of recipients obtaining a non-lodger debt 37,000 customers (2%) of the total FTB population for the 2008–09 entitlement year had a non-lodger debta
Payment accuracy 96.7%
Percentage and number of families with children under 16 years of age receiving FTB Part A and/or FTB Part Bb

1.77 million families with dependent children under 16 years of age received FTB A and/or FTB B  
FTB A: 71% (1,719,000 families)   
FTB B: 59% (1,416,00 families)   
FTB (A and/or B): 73% (1,772,000 families)

Agreements are in place with all service delivery agencies Agreements are in place with Centrelink and Medicare Australia.
Strategies are in place to ensure that requirements are fulfilled under agreements with service delivery agencies In accordance with the bilateral management arrangement with Centrelink and the service agreement with Medicare Australia the Department provided quarterly reports (including information exchanges) to ensure that all risks are being managed. Business discussions were held on a quarterly basis with each agency.
Family Tax Benefit Part A
Percentage and number of families in receipt of FTB Part A within income test categories (instalment customers only—as at 24 June 2011)
Maximum rate
With income support: 408,000 families (25% of all FTB A recipients)
No income support: 175,000 families (11% of all FTB A recipients)
Broken rate
With income support: 190,000 families (12% of all FTB A recipients)
No income support: 338,000 families (21% of all FTB A recipients)
Base rate
With income support: 33,000 families (2% of all FTB A recipients)
No income support: 376,000 families (23% of all FTB A recipients)
Tapered rate
No income support: 115,000 families (7% of all FTB A recipients)
Family Tax Benefit Part B
Percentage and number of families in receipt of FTB Part B within income test categories (instalment customers only—as at 24 June 2011)
Maximum rate
With income support: 427,000 single families (31% of all FTB B recipients)
21,000 couple families (2% of all FTB B recipients)
No income support: 172,000 single families (13% of all FTB B recipients)
296,000 couple families (22% of all FTB B recipients)
Broken rate
With income support: 163,000 couple families (12% of all FTB B recipients)
No income support: 277,000 couple families (20% of all FTB B recipients)

aCustomers with an unresolved non-lodger debt at 30 June 2011.

bProportions are based on FTB eligible customers and estimated number of Australian families with children under 16 years old based on the Australian Bureau of Statistics Survey of Income and Housing June 2009 and Labour Force Survey, June 2009.

Table 5.4 summarises the Department’s result for program 1.2 against the deliverable published in the 2010–11 PB Statements.

Table 5.4 Program 1.2—deliverable

Deliverable Result
Payments are made through Centrelink and Medicare Australia to eligible claimants under the provisions of family assistance law Payments were made as described

Program 1.3: Parental Payments and Care Incentives

The objective of program 1.3 is to make payments to families to assist with the associated costs of a newborn or adopted child, to maximise the period that parents can be away from work to spend time with their new baby or adopted child and to encourage all families to fully immunise their children.

The program has the following components:

Paid Parental Leave

The objective of the PPL scheme is to provide financial support to working parents to enable them to take time off work to care for their child, to enhance maternal and child health and development, to facilitate workforce participation and to promote gender equity and work–family balance.

The scheme provides Parental Leave Pay for a maximum period of 18 weeks at the rate of the national minimum wage (currently $589.40 per week before tax) to eligible working parents whose child is born or adopted from 1 January 2011.

To be eligible for the scheme a person must be the primary carer of a child born or adopted from 1 January 2011, be an Australian resident, meet the work test and have an individual adjusted taxable income of $150,000 or less in the previous financial year. Only the primary carer’s income counts towards the income test, not the household income. To meet the work test, a person must have worked for at least 10 of the 13 months prior to the birth or adoption of their child, and worked for at least 330 hours (just over one day a week) in that 10-month period, with no more than an eight-week gap between two consecutive working days.

Employers are required to provide government-funded Parental Leave Pay to their eligible, long-term, continuing employees who have or adopt a child from 1 July 2011. Employers are able to opt in to provide Parental Leave Pay to those employees whom they are not required to pay. The opt-in has been possible from the start of the scheme.

During 2010–11, 42,975 parents received Parental Leave Pay, with 11,859 of these completing their PPL period.

Baby Bonus

The objective of Baby Bonus is to make payments to families to assist with the costs arising from the birth or adoption of a child.

The Baby Bonus is a per child payment, paid in 13 fortnightly instalments to families following the birth or adoption of a child to help with the costs associated with a newborn or adopted child. Payment is subject to a family income test that limits eligibility to families with a combined income of $75,000 or less in the six‑month period after the birth or after the child enters care.

In 2010–11 the Baby Bonus was paid to 219,000 families for 223,000 births or adoptions. Of these, 131,000 families were paid the Baby Bonus for 133,000 children between 1 July and 31 December 2010, and 88,000 families were paid the Baby Bonus for 90,000 births or adoptions between 1 January and 30 June 2011. The lower number of Baby Bonus claims in the second half of 2010–11 was due to the introduction of the PPL scheme.

Maternity Immunisation Allowance

The objective of Maternity Immunisation Allowance is to make payments to encourage families to fully immunise their natural and adopted children in accordance with Australian standards. The allowance supports improved child development and safety in all families by impeding the spread of infectious diseases within the Australian community.

The Maternity Immunisation Allowance is one component of the Government’s broader strategy for reaching high levels of immunisation among Australian children. The allowance is a non–income tested payment that is generally paid in two instalments to the parent or carer of a child who has been fully immunised. The first amount is paid if a child is fully immunised between the ages of 18 months and 24 months and the second amount is paid if a child is fully immunised between four and five years of age.

Double Orphan Pension

The objective of Double Orphan Pension is to make non–means tested payments to guardians or approved care organisations to assist in meeting the costs of dependent children who are double orphans.

Double Orphan Pension is a supplementary payment to a guardian or approved care organisation responsible for the care and control of a child aged under 16 or to full‑time students aged 16 to 21 who do not receive Youth Allowance. The payment applies in cases where both parents have died or one parent has died and the other parent is unable or unavailable to care for the child or student for specific reasons. A child who has been granted refugee status by the Australian Government and has never lived in Australia with either or both parents, and whose parents are outside Australia or their whereabouts are unknown, may also be eligible for the payment. Double Orphan Pension is usually paid in addition to Family Tax Benefit Part A.

During 2010–11, approximately 1,300 carers received Double Orphan Pension for 1,900 children at a cost of approximately $3.26 million. Double Orphan Pension was most commonly paid in situations where one parent had died and the other parent’s whereabouts were unknown (531); to refugee children (499); and for children whose parents had both died (700).

Summary of performance

Table 5.5 summarises the Department’s results for program 1.3 against the key performance indicators published in the 2010–11 PB Statements.

Table 5.5 Program 1.3—key performance indicators

Key performance indicator Result
Paid Parental Leave (PPL)
Number of mothers for whom PPL has been paid as a proportion of all mothers in the same year 15% (43,000) of all mothers in 2010–11 based on the Australian Bureau of Statistics publication 3222.0 Series B estimatesa
Percentage and number of parents paid PPL by employers 2.2% (939) of parents whose payment had commenced or finished during 2010–11b
Percentage and number of families who take the full 18 weeks of PPL 98.7% (11,522) of families whose payment was finalised during 2010–11
Baby Bonus
Number and percentage of children for whom Baby Bonus is paid as a proportion of all children born in the same year

223,000 children for whom Baby Bonus is paid

78%, as a proportion of all children born in 2010–11 based on the Australian Bureau of Statistics publication 3222.0 Series B estimates

Maternity Immunisation Allowance
Percentage and number of children vaccinated to the highest level appropriate for their age in the Australian community

Children fully immunised (by age group):

12–15 months: 75,000 (90%)
24–27 months: 74,000 (93%)
60–63 months: 73,000 (90%)

Baby Bonus/Maternity Immunisation Allowance
Number of recipients

219,000 families received Baby Bonus in 2010–11.

267,000 families received Maternity Immunisation Allowance in 2010–11.

Administered outlays

Baby Bonus: $1,176.97 million

Maternity Immunisation Allowance: $35.81 million

Payment accuracy Payment accuracy for the Baby Bonus and the Maternity Immunisation Allowance was not measured in 2010–11, as these payments were not included in the random sample survey program.
Service delivery agreements are in place with all service delivery agencies Agreements are in place with Centrelink and Medicare Australia.
Strategies are in place to ensure that requirements are fulfilled under agreements with service delivery agencies In accordance with the bilateral management arrangement with Centrelink and the service agreement with Medicare Australia, the Department provided quarterly reports (including information exchanges) to ensure that all risks are being managed. Business discussions were held on a quarterly basis with each agency.

a An additional 11,500 families are eligible for PPL for births prior to 1 July 2011, but had not commenced payment by early August. PPL was introduced on 1 January 2011, so information can only be provided for half of 2010–11.

b The full phase of the PPL employer role did not begin until 1 July 2011.

Table 5.6 summarises the Department’s results for program 1.3 against the deliverables published in the 2010–11 PB Statements.

Table 5.6 Program 1.3—deliverables

Deliverable Result
Payments are made through Centrelink and Medicare Australia to eligible claimants under the provisions of family assistance law Payments were made as described
Double Orphan Pension is paid through Centrelink to eligible claimants under the provisions of social security law Payments were made as described
Paid Parental Leave is proposed to be paid under a new Act of Parliament Payments were made as described

Outlook for Outcome 1

In 2011–12 the Department will implement the new Family Support Program arrangements in a way that ensures that services are targeting the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children and families. The Department will continue to develop the performance framework to ensure that the Department is strongly positioned to track outcomes for clients, including their participation in work.

During 2010–11, the Department developed several 2010 election commitment measures that were subsequently included in the
2011–12 Budget. The measures included:

In 2011–12, the Department will work on expanding and enhancing the Communities for Children service to support the Government’s Building Australia’s Future Workforce package.

The enhanced service will work with teenage parents and jobless families to provide them with the support they need to give their children the best start in life by building parenting skills and confidence, and by ensuring their children are physically, developmentally and socially ready for school. This new approach is being trialled in 10 targeted locations, seven of which are sites with existing Communities for Children services: Burnie (Tasmania), Hume (Victoria), Logan (Queensland), Kwinana (Western Australia), Playford (South Australia), Shellharbour (New South Wales) and Wyong (New South Wales); and three of which will have new Communities for Children services established: Bankstown (New South Wales), Shepparton (Victoria) and Rockhampton (Queensland)

The Department will continue to develop policy and legislation in consultation with business, industry and families and prepare for the implementation of Dad and Partner Pay on 1 January 2013. Dad and Partner Pay will provide eligible fathers or partners caring for a child born or adopted on or after 1 January 2013 with two weeks’ pay at the rate of the national minimum wage.

In 2011–12, the Department will continue to evaluate the PPL scheme, focusing on the operations of the scheme in the first 12 months.

The Department will continue to complete work on national priority projects outlined in Implementing the first three-year action plan 2009–12 for the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children by 2012. A second action plan will be developed in consultation with state and territory governments and the non-government sector.

* Proportions are based on FTB eligible customers and estimated number of Australian families with children under 16 years old based on the Australian Bureau of Statistics Survey of  Income and Housing June 2009  and Labour Force Survey as for June 2009.

‡ Estimate is based on FTB population eligible for the 2008–09 entitlement year

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