Advocacy update June 2022

The FCAV advanced priority carer issues in June through profile-raising articles and interviews in the media and through liaison and collaboration across the sector.

Following interviews with the CEO, Samantha Hauge, The Australian newspaper carried two articles this month on carer issues.

 

  • the high number of children in care without birth certificates and the barriers the carers experience in getting their children registered for essential services such as MedicareThe Australian birth registration 1 because they don’t have proof of life documents. (12 June 2022)

 

  • the failure of the Government to implement a KPMG report on the insufficient level of carer financial support and the need to increase the Care Allowance to levels provided to carers in other states such as NSW. (17 June 2022) 

 

Carer Allowance The Australian

As a result of the article on the KPMG report the President of the FCAV, Tori Smith, was interviewed on ABC Drive with Raf Epstein. During that program the Premier, Daniel Andrews, was asked why the KPMG report has not been implemented. Listen in here. The FCAV has lodged a Freedom of Information request to gain access to the KPMG report. 

 

The FCAV has also been working with Medicare (through Commonwealth agency Services Australia) to progress proposals to streamline Medicare registrations. The FCAV met with Services Australia to seek changes to current Medicare registration processes to speed access to essential health care services. The FCAV expects this work will continue throughout 2022.

 

The FCAV has also been working with Agencies to highlight the challenges and inefficiencies in applying for funding and supports under the Client Support Funding Framework (CSFF). The FCAV will use the advocacy material it has developed on the CSFF to advocate for improved funding and to inform its election platform for the State election that will be held in November 2022.

 

The release of new figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare show a further decrease to the Victorian foster care pool for 2020-21. Proper support, including financial, is key to retaining good carers in the system. 

 

Birth Certificate Audit

The Australian newspaper article on the 12/6/22 (right) said that the Department of Families Fairness and Housing (DFFH) is undertaking to cross check children in care to determine if they have a registered birth and birth certificate on file.

 

The report says that the Andrews Government is working with the Registry of Birth Deaths and Marriages to determine how many of the more than the daily average of 9600 children in care have easy access to proof of life documentation such as a birth certificate.

The report said that the Government believed that there were potentially large numbers of children who did not have easy access to a birth certificate but that the number of children without a registered birth is only small.

 

The FCAV has previously identified birth registration as a priority issue because birth certificates are essential for accessing a range of essential services including:

  • Medicare;
  • Passports
  • Tax file numbers; and
  • Drivers licences.

 

The FCAV has welcomed the Government’s initiative because vulnerable children without a registered birth or birth certificate may be denied access to essential services. And in some instances, carers are required to pay for some services (such as health services) out of their own pockets to ensure that the children in their care get the support they need. 

Further, the FCAV has been told by several Agencies that some medical practitioners are refusing to provide services to children in care because of non-payment or lengthy delays in payment for those services by DFFH. This increases the pressure on carers to fund access to those services themselves.

 

DFFH have indicated that no child is prevented from accessing medical care because carers are reimbursed when they are out of pocket. Nevertheless, carers often experience long delays in getting reimbursements and the FCAV believes that it is not reasonable to expect volunteer carers to pay upfront for services in the first place. Arrangements such as Medicare registration to ensure access to essential medical services should be organised at the beginning of any placement as a priority.

 

The FCAV welcomes the establishment of a Carer/Agency helpdesk which was funded over four years by the last state budget. DFFH consultation on the design and structure of the help desk is yet to commence.