Families Australia response to the ParentsNext National Expansion Discussion Paper

I write in response to the call for response to the ParentsNext National Expansion Discussion Paper released on 12 September 2017. Families Australia thanks the Department of Employment for this opportunity to provide input into the proposed expansion of the ParentsNext program.

Families Australia is a national, peak, not-for-profit organisation that strives to improve the wellbeing of Australian families, especially the most vulnerable and marginalised. Families Australia does this by providing policy advice to the Australian Government and Parliament on behalf of more than 800 member organisations around Australia. Please find below Families Australia’s brief comments on the ParentsNext National Expansion discussion paper.

Families Australia welcomes the focus of the Commonwealth Government on supporting parents of young children to improve their connection with the workforce. Families Australia recommends that any expansion of the ParentsNext program clearly identify links to, and coordination with, other National plans, frameworks and programs, in particular, coordination with the Third Action Plan of the National Framework for Protection Australia’s Children 2009-2020.

Under the above Third Action Plan the Commonwealth Government is working with the Queensland Government to deliver the Building Capacity in Australian Parents trial in three sites. One of these sites overlaps with a proposed ParentsNext site. Given the similarities in target groups, coordination between these initiatives is critical. There may be overlaps with other programs and sites. Consideration may have been undertaken but this is not evident in the discussion paper.

The proposed focus on parents with children under five years of age is also of concern to Families Australia. The importance of supporting parents to parent in the early years is well researched and parents of young children have shown their desire to have time with their young children. Families Australia seeks a review of the proposed focus on parents of these very young children.

Thank you again for the opportunity to comment on ParentsNext National Expansion discussion paper.