Carer Advocacy Priorities

Priorities for carer advocacy come direct from FCAV engagement with carer members, the Carer Advisory Groups, CEO Chats and other carer forums, including data from our Carer Support Team issues. 


While funding and administrative issues impact all carers, they have a particularly high impact on women who make up over 80% of the primary foster carers. This can have long term consequences for many women who often forgo employment opportunities along with other financial benefits of employment such as superannuation, in order to support children and placements. Consequently, many systemic Child Protection issues have a significant gender dimension because the Child Protection system is supported and sustained by volunteer women carers.

A worrying ongoing decline in carer recruitment and retention and an increase in carer exits can be attributed to a range of systemic factors including inadequate services regarding-


  • funding supports— to manage costs of care.
  • placement supports— support of carers role with children and young people in their care.
  • living supports—support to carer's lives and employment such as difficulty getting travel permissions (intra state, interstate and overseas), childcare/after school care, child transport, respite and peer support.


Key issues include-


  • Low level of the Victorian Care Allowance. The Care Allowance is meant to cover all day to day living expenses including some medical and education/recreation expenses. Victoria has one of the lowest Care Allowances in Australia. For example, a Victorian carer with a 6 year old child receives $214 per week while a carer in NSW with the same age child receives $305 per week. See campaign here: 


  • Indexation of the Care Allowance. The Victorian Care Allowance has not had a real increase since 2017 ($20 per week) and was only indexed by 2% on 1 July 2022. Household inflation (measured by the CPI) is currently over 7%. Carers in other jurisdictions such as Queensland have had cost of living adjustments to maintain the real value of the carer allowance. Queensland increased the Care Allowance by 8% on 1 January 2013 so that a care with a 6 year old child receives $305 per week (same as NSW).


  • Client Expenses. Funding to support children in placements is inadequate and difficult to access. Client expenses covers funding for services that are not covered by the care allowance such as counselling, medical assessments/paediatric services, education (lap tops, books, tuition) and recreation expenses (sporting clubs, equipment).  The DFFH Home Based Carer Census reported that over 60% of carers report using their own savings to fund out of pocket care expenses.


  • Carer recruitment and retention. The FCAV Carer Snapshot shows that the number of available carers has fallen while the number of carers on hold or exiting the system is increasing at a time when demand for carers is increasing. This reflects the challenges of recruiting and retaining carers in an environment where substantial and unresolved systemic issues is affecting recruitment and retention through poor word of mouth. Added to this, DFFH currently has no funded carer retention strategy.


  • Travel. Carers struggle to get permission to travel intra and interstate with the result that they may not be able to take their children with them on holidays or when they are visiting family. A related problem is that many carers struggle to get key identity documents for the children in their care such as passports. Currently there is no support service to assist carers to navigate the complex passport application process with the result that children are left behind when carers travel overseas or carers are unable to travel.


  • CIMS. Currently there is no structured process for referral of allegations to the Victorian Police and no monitoring of Police investigation timeframes. The result is the CIMS investigations are often put on hold for long periods of time while waiting for Police action. It is estimated that only a small number of Police investigations (less than 5%) result in formal charges. CIMS investigations can have a high negative impact on carers because they can result in the cancellation of Working with Children Checks which can in turn affect careers and employment.


  • Respect and inclusion. Carers report lack of inclusion in decision making low levels of respect within the Child Protection system generally. Carers don’t feel valued for the perspectives and experience they have about the children in their care which is causing low levels of moral (which in turn affects retention and recruitment).


  • Economic value of caring. The Centre of Excellence in Child and Family Welfare has recently referred to studies which show that volunteer foster caring could be adding as much as $450 million per annum to the Victorian economy. As noted above, the volunteer carer workforce is predominately female and as such this contribution is mostly made by women.


  • Transport. Carers often struggle to get information about transport arrangements for the children in their care which can make it difficult to organise their days/lives. For example, DFFH or Agency transport is often required to support a placement because the carers doesn’t live close to the school that the child attends or for things like parental contact which might occur several days a week. Carers struggle to get current information about whether transport is available, cancelled or late on a particular day making it difficult to organise routine activities and related things such as cancellation of parental contact often occurs without any notification of the carer.