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An overview of the Campaign to date, support, progress, challenges & next steps

Update on the Campaign

Thank you for making your submission to the Petition to Increase the Care Allowance (The Campaign). Since the campaign launch in June 2023, over 2,100 carers, care-experienced people, workers and other supporters have made a submission to the campaign.   

Why a campaign?

The campaign committee, including the Foster Care Association of Victoria (FCAV) and Permanent Care and Adoptive Families (PCAF), started the Care Allowance Campaign on behalf of our carer members, following years of advocacy to Government and the DFFH, with no increase. In fact, there has been no net increase to the Care Allowance rate since 2016. In an era of record attrition rates of foster carers. (See the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare - Data Table 7.2 in Child Protection tab). This most recent data shows that 621 households exited the foster care system in 2021-22, while only 317 were recruited. With a cost-of-living crisis, all evidence points to the care allowance being significantly underfunded in this state. The state government in January 2022, received a commissioned report from consulting firm KPMG that has not been released, but parts of which have been made public, that recommended a 67% increase to the Care Allowance, but the state government has not adopted the recommendation.  

We are asking for an increase to the Care Allowance rates in Victoria that meets parity with other states in Australia. Currently, Victoria is well behind other states, exacerbated by fewer incremental increases in the Allowance rates by age range and indexation rates that are around 5% below inflation year on year.    

See State-by-State breakdown here.

The Call to Action

The campaign was set up to allow carers and their supporters to directly petition for an increase to the allowance. The petition aims to demonstrate to those in decision-making positions the real -life impacts of the insufficient Care Allowance on carers’ lives and the placements of the children and young people in their care.  

Victoria has the lowest Care Allowance rate in the country

Campaign Progress

Since June 2023, the campaign has received over 2,100 submissions just like these...

See more examples of submissions here

The Good News  

The submissions made by those with lived experience have outlined the hardships involved in providing care on the current allowance rates. The campaign is raising attention and carer submissions have elicited the support of ACCOs, CSOs, larger sector advocates and the media.  

Home-based Care Sector Support 

We have been grateful for the support of sector organisations who have partnered with us to promote the campaign including: Anchor Community Care Ltd, Anglicare, Berry Street, Child and Family Services (CAFS), Commission for Children and Young People (CCYP), Lighthouse Foundation, Mallee Family Care, Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA), the Victorian Aboriginal Children and Young People's Alliance (The Alliance) and Victorian Council of Social Services (VCOSS).   

See supporters as at December 2023 as the list of endorsements continues to grow:

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Submission to Treasury

In December 2023 we were invited by government to attend a meeting with the Treasurer’s Office where we were able to advocate on behalf of carers and table the 2,000+ Care Allowance Petition submissions received to that date.  

  

Above: CEO of the Foster Care Association of Victoria, Samantha Hauge, delivering the submission package to the Victorian Treasurer's Office in December 2023.

Community Services Sector Support

The support of larger sector advocates is important to the Campaign, and we are grateful for the inclusion of an increase to the Care Allowance as urgent and important recommendations in:   

  1. The Victorian Council of Social Services (VCOSS) 2024 Budget Submission Read VCOSS Budget submission pp 45-46  
     
  2. The Commission for Children & Young People’s (CCYP) “Let us learn: Systemic inquiry into the educational experiences of children and young people in out-of-home care” outlines the importance of carer support in Education for young people in care. Among many important findings, the Inquiry finds metrics on outcomes and experiences of children and young people in the education and care system are impacted by the low Carer Allowance and other barriers to funding support in children’s households and makes the case for solutions and recommendations.  Read CCYP Inquiry Report Chapter 6 pp 137-139  

The Campaign in the Media

Victorian care allowance advocacy has garnered high profile media attention including: 

  1. Herald Sun February 2023 - “Victorian foster carers still waiting for major allowance increase.” The state government was urged to make major changes to the foster system last year, now 12 months on carers are quitting in droves. Read article behind the paywall here.  
     
  2. Herald Sun September 2023 (below) - “Foster carers sound alarm over Victoria paying lowest allowance in Australia”. Struggling foster carers are deserting the industry in Victoria due to being paid the lowest allowances in the country to look after vulnerable children. Read article behind the paywall here. 

3. Front-page The Age December 3, 2023 - “Foster Carers leaving the system as cost of living, low allowance pushes them out.”  Read the article behind the paywall on the FCAV website here. With many thanks to Leigh and Bek Stevens, carers in Bendigo and Fiona and Mike Te Wierik, carers in Narre Warren, for outlining the impact of the low care allowance on their caring role. Thanks also to the over 50 carer submitters to the campaign who volunteered to be interviewed. Read the article behind the paywall on the FCAV website here.  

4. The Campaign story was then syndicated and featured on Channel 7 news

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The Not So Good News

It is disappointing that despite numerous letters, submissions, meetings and media, neither the Departments of Treasury or Families, Fairness and Housing have provided a commitment to increase the Care Allowance.    

We have been advised that Victoria is in a constrained fiscal situation and that the next Budget is likely to be tight, with Departments required to be more efficient and targeted with programs and expenditure. However, unlike other costs/programs that the State can reduce or reprofile, the Care Allowance is paid to cover the day to day living costs of vulnerable children, in recognition that the State Government is responsible for covering those living costs. There is no cost efficiency that can be made in the upbringing of children and young people in care and nor should there be, however, the cost benefit of investing in the home-based care of children and young people is enormous and well documented (see one of many reports here pp112). Limited funding means only one thing, volunteer carers who already have reduced income-earning capacity, loss in leave and superannuation due to their caring role, are footing the bill.  

Campaign Next Steps

Volunteers should not be paying for cost of care expenses out of their own pocket.  The Foster Care Association of Victoria and Permanent Care and Adoptive Families will continue to run the campaign using every means possible until such time as the Government announce an increase to the care allowance that covers the cost of caring for a child.  

What can you do?   

Continue to submit and interact with the campaign; like and share posts and encourage other carers to make a submission. Find out more and sign the petition click button below.

Stay tuned to the FCAV and PCAF Facebook pages and newsletters for further updates on the campaign.  

Thank you for your support. Together, we can ensure that the invaluable work of carers is recognised and drive advocacy on this critical issue.  

Sign the Petition here

 

Applications for Flexible Funding for this financial year are now closed.  Applications for the new financial year, 2023/2024 will open on the 1st of July 2023. 

If you need to speak with a Flexible Funding Advisor please call 03 9020 1833 and choose option 3.

To read the Aligning Career Education and Leaving Care Planning Practices guide

The PCA Families Board is governed by a of dedicated group of people who bring a wide range of not-for-profit, public sector and business skills, expertise and knowledge to the leadership of our organisation.

The responsibilities of the Board include setting and reviewing our strategic direction, monitoring organisational performance, the appointment of the CEO and deciding on key policy positions to take on behalf of members. The Board is also responsible for the organisation’s compliance with relevant laws including the Associations  Incorporation Reform Act 2012 (Vic) and the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission Act. Board members themselves comply with the Code of Conduct, Board Charter , Child Safe policy and Conflicts of Interest policy.

The procedure for Board appointments can be found in our Constitution and our Board Composition Policy. PCA Families maintains a Board Skills Matrix, reviewed annually to ensure that the Board continues to have the right mix of skills and experience. Board member positions are voluntary with expenses reimbursed.

For all details on our upcoming AGM on 8 November including agenda, financials, annual report etc, please visit our events page.

You are encouraged to talk to the PCA Families Chair Naomi Colville via email  if you are interested in joining the Board. 

Download our Constitution

The current Board members are:

Permanent care, kinship care, and adoptive families play a critical role in the protection of vulnerable children.

PCA Families exists to provide our families with the support they need to provide nurturing and permanent homes for the children and young people who come into their care through permanent care, kinship care or adoption. We know firsthand that the journey for families is rewarding but not always easy.

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How your Support Helps:

Donating to PCA Families will enable us to continue developing and rolling out programs that support strong and stable families through parenting and peer support services that directly benefit children, young people and their families. It will also allow us to continue our advocacy work to improve the lived experience of permanent care and adoptive families.

You can make a difference through:

  • Single or monthly gift
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You can donate online, via PayPal or Direct Deposit into our bank account. Donations over $2.00 are tax-deductible.

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Permanent Care and Adoptive Families (PCA Families) is a  registered charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission, and a Tier 2 incorporated association registered and domiciled in Victoria, Australia and has been endorsed as an Income Tax Exempt Charity and a Public Benevolent Institution by the Australian Taxation Office. This means that your donation is tax deductible.

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To view information on Coronavirus COVID-19 click here.

PCA Families develop a quarterly newsletter for our members to keep you up to date with news and events related to the permanent care, kinship care and adoption community.

If you have a story, photo or video you are willing to share, we would love to hear from you! Please send your pieces to

2024

  • Newsletter Feb 23, 2024 - Dads retreat questionnaire, Mindfulness workshops, Insights from Share and Connect
  • No. 119 - Feb 1 - 2024 - Share & Connect; Feb 15, Fostering Resilience; Feb 10, Understanding Intercountry adoptees & suicide
  • No. 118 - Jan 17 - 2024 - HNY 2024, Join National Carer Strategy Advisory Committee, 10 free tickets for ADHD conference

PCA Families is committed to providing information and support during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s been a challenging time for many children, young people and their carers.

While we are working differently, PCA Families is continuing to deliver services.

Meetings and events

Member meetings such as peer support groups will be a mix of online and face to face, depending on the specific circumstances at the time.

Flexible funding support

Flexible funding is available to apply for things like:

  • Cognitive assessments, specialist appointments & related therapies
  • Therapy (counselling, psychology, art, play, equine etc.)
  • Health related costs
  • Costs associated with birth family contact
  • School related costs
  • Tutoring if learning gaps arise due to COVID
  • Extra-curricular activities (eg. Online classes during Covid-19 lockdown)

COVID-19 information for families

  • Department of Health and Human Services (For the most up-to-date information and advice)
  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) Health Information Hotline (If you believe you are showing symptoms of COVID-19) Phone: 1800 675 398
  • For COVID-19 information in languages other than English (To have information interpreted) Phone: 131 450
  • Beyond Blue (For information about mental health and the COVID-19 outbreak)

Resources for children and young people

PCA Families recognise the importance of protecting the privacy and the rights of individuals in relation to their personal information.

PCA Families will seek consent from you to contact a third party about your circumstances unless there is an immediate risk of harm identified for a child, young person or another person.

Any client information used for PCA Families reports will be de-identified to protect the identity of children and families.

Our privacy policy tells you how we collect and manage your personal information.

We respect your rights to privacy under the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth)(Act) and we comply with the Act’s requirements in respect of the collection, management and disclosure of your personal information. 

Our privacy policy is here 

 

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