My adjournment matter this evening is for the Minister for Families and Children and Minister for Youth Affairs, Ms Mikakos. As the minister is aware, there has been a surge in the growth of child protection notifications across the state, with the Auditor-General highlighting that the number of children in out-of-home care has grown by 60 per cent over the past decade.
Last year the government announced an ambitious reform project to shape the long-term future of support service systems for vulnerable children and families, and the government has been working closely with the community services sector to deliver the Roadmap for Reform, which is evidence based and driven by expert advice. We have also seen two budgets from this government that have invested in child protection and family services, including early intervention services, more child protection workers and improving the out-of-home care system. There are a number of initiatives that were included in the most recent budget, such as child protection enhancements, including one-year funding for the ongoing operation of the child protection specialist intervention unit; funding to meet the urgent demand in integrated family services, as recommended by the Royal Commission into Family Violence; specialist family violence and sexual assault counselling for children; and renewal or replacement of residential care properties. The list goes on.
What I am seeking is an opportunity for the leaders of organisations that deliver youth-centred and family-focused services in the south-west of Victoria — who do an excellent job in what is a very difficult and complex area — to be afforded the opportunity to sit down with the minister to discuss the situations that their organisations are facing and what measures they are undertaking to implement the broad programs that have been introduced by this government in the recent budget as well as in the preceding budget. The action I seek is that the minister visit the south-west in the coming weeks to meet with the community sector leaders who deliver a range of integrated child and youth-centred and family-focused services in the south-west of Victoria.