The Future of Foster Care Families Australia Policy Forum

National Foster Care Sustainability Project

Families Australia invites you to join their next policy forum on the foster carer shortage across Australia on 20th June 2024. Click here to register for the event!

Over the past five years, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) is showing a steadying of the numbers of children and young people (CYP) entering out-of-home care (OOHC).

But what has changed significantly is where children are being placed within the system.

The consequences of a decline in the recruitment of new foster carers and an increase in existing foster carers leaving, is seeing a growing reliance in all jurisdictions on non-family-based (residential) care arrangements, and especially concerning First Nations children with the increasing over-representation. 

These trends not only incur significant financial burdens on governments but, most importantly, result in poor outcomes for children and young people, and their families and communities.

Families Australia is committed to exploring and harnessing national Commonwealth opportunities aimed at sustaining and enhancing the pivotal role of foster carers within the OOHC system.

Aligned with Families Australia’s vision, that Australian families, in all their diversity, enjoy the greatest possible wellbeing, we are committed to exploring and harnessing national Commonwealth opportunities aimed at sustaining and enhancing the pivotal role of foster carers within the OOHC system.

‘There has never been a more crucial time for driving change at a national level’. 

Child Protection presents a complex interplay of individual systems, predominantly falling under ‘state business’. The Commonwealth has influence and responsibilities that can play a pivotal leadership role in facilitating better support for state-based systems and ultimately improving outcomes for CYP. 

To expedite action, a National Foster Care Sustainability Group has been established by Families Australia. The aim of this select group is for open collaboration, resource and report sharing, expertise exchange, and to collectively advocate for the strategic federal levers necessary to unlock substantial gains for the state and territory foster care systems.

The group includes key leaders from (in alphabetical order); Adopt Change​, Anglicare Victoria​, Australian Foster Care Association​, The Centre for Excellence​ in Child and Family Welfare, Connecting Foster & Kinship Carers SA, Families Australia, Key Assets​ Australia, Life Without Barriers​, MacKillop Family Services, OzChild, PeakCare and SNAICC​. This group is also joined by two foster carers – one a chief executive from the corporate world and the other an experienced government lobbyist.

Throughout 2024, alongside Families Australia, this group will directly inform and present to the Federal Government a concise set of immediate solutions for action. These recommendations will be designed to eliminate existing federal barriers allowing jurisdictions to enhance their practices. 

The key recommendations are still to be formally determined but will likely be around more adequate access and re-imbursement for the medical and therapeutic needs of children and young people in OOHC, taxation reform, and equitable workplace leave entitlements.

Families Australia will continue to update its members and the sector on this important work, helping to ensure this vital part of the child protection system is preserved and enhanced – leading to better outcomes for children, young people, and their carers and families.

For further information on this project please reach out to us!

Bianca Richards, Executive Director Sector Development (Families Australia project lead)
E: admin@familiesaustralia.org.au, ATT Bianca Richards

Jamie Crosby, Chief Executive Officer, Families Australia
E: jcrosby@familiesaustralia.org.au