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Children's Action Plan 'needs broader scope'

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Child Poverty Action Group says the government's announcement of a Children's Action Plan acknowledges the importance of protecting vulnerable children from violence.

CPAG spokesperson Associate Professor Mike O'Brien says any move by the government to protect children was commendable. However the Children's Action Plan had shortcomings, as it did not take into account factors that contribute towards the occurrence of child abuse.

"I think the government is right to place importance on protecting vulnerable children but this is not a Children's Action Plan. This is a plan to stop vulnerable children from being hurt and that in itself is a good thing."

However a Children's Action Plan would need to have a broader scope to attend to a range of issues affecting children - health, housing, incomes, education and poverty to enact change and bring about progress in communities.

Assoc. Prof O'Brien says a recent report by CPAG drew attention to the wide range of issues that increase the likelihood of abuse exploring the link between poverty and child neglect and maltreatment. "A top heavy approach such as that proposed by the government will be limited."

The CPAG report strongly identifies poverty as a key risk factor in child abuse. While the government seems genuinely committed to protecting children it is failing to address poverty as one of the key drivers of child maltreatment and neglect, despite many of its own reports over many years suggesting more action.

The government's recent welfare reforms will cut benefits to struggling parents of children where strict criteria are not met, rather than increase child-related payments to the most disadvantaged - a move that will create further risk for children already identified as vulnerable children.

Children must be protected with policies that will improve their access to adequate income, housing, education and health. As a nation we can choose to dramatically reduce poverty and by doing so lessen the risk to our children from suffering abuse.

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