Introductory letter from Sandy Pitcher, Secretary DFFH

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From 1 February 2021, the Victorian community is served by two new departments – the Department of Health and the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH).

At DFFH, our focus is on those experiencing vulnerability or disadvantage, those who may be marginalised from the mainstream and those Victorians who most need the support of their community.

The new department brings together policy and programs in Child Protection, Prevention of Family Violence, Housing, Disability, Ageing and Carers, Multicultural Affairs, LGBTIQ+ communities, Equality, Veterans, Offices for Women and Youth. DFFH also supports Family Safety Victoria, Homes Victoria and Respect Victoria.

We know there are communities that face huge challenges—now more than ever. Our vision is a more equal and inclusive Victoria, where everyone matters.

But we can’t achieve this vision without you.

Thank you for the wonderful work that you do every day to create safe and nurturing environments for children and young people in care. As foster carers, you make a huge contribution to our community and deserve our support in your vital caring roles.

In October 2019, we released the Strong carers, stronger children carer strategy, developed with FCAV and other key carer groups.

Strong carers, stronger children sets out Victoria’s strategy to better support kinship, foster and permanent carers to drive improved outcomes for children and young people in care, to be delivered through a series of action plans.

Like many critical pieces of work, implementation of the 2020-21 Carer Strategy Action Plan was largely deferred in 2020 as we focussed our efforts on the response to coronavirus (COVID-19). During this time, the Victorian Government prioritised additional supports for home-based carers to help care for children through the challenging pandemic period. This included:

  • A one-off $600 supplementary payment to foster and kinship carers in 2020
  • $2.597 million across 2019-20 and 2020-21 for additional respite carers or provision of in-home supports for foster and kinship carers who require additional assistance to support placement stability as a result of COVID-19
  • $100,000 in funding for FCAV to bolster and enhance your dedicated response to carers to meet their specific needs during this time.

It is now time to refocus on those long-term reforms that are vital for improving outcomes for children, young people and carers. We are working to bring together the Carer Strategy Working Group, co‑chaired by FCAV, in coming weeks to review the 2020-21 action plan, take stock of where we are and progress the next stage of work.

As we work together on the next stage of reform, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on vulnerable families and home-based carers will be front of mind. We need to make sure people get the wellbeing supports they need and that no one in our community is left behind in the recovery.

I know the reform journey is a long one - and that can be frustrating. But rest assured, we are committed to working with you to support you in your vital caring roles and to improve outcomes for children and young people in care.

Thank you for the contribution you make to our community and the lives of so many children and young people.

Sandy Pitcher 
Department of Families, Fairness and Housing

More information for foster carers can be found on the Department’s website.

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