Critical shortage of welfare services for pre-teens





Critical shortage of welfare services for pre-teens

Posted April 30, 2013 09:21:21

A new report warns there is a critical lack of welfare services for troubled pre-teenage children in Victoria.

A study by the Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS) and the Youth Affairs Council found only eight per cent of welfare groups had specific strategies for children aged between eight and 12 years of age.

The report says Victoria's welfare system is not set up to deal with this age group because the problems they are experiencing have traditionally been associated with older teenagers.

Two hundred and thirteen community, school and government service providers were surveyed for the study.

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More than 70 per cent of them reported they did not have enough resources to meet the demand for help.

VCOSS acting chief executive officer Carolyn Atkins says they are seeing a range of problems including mental health issues, family violence and homelessness.

"I think as unemployment is increasing, families are under increasing pressure with rents going up and other household expenses increasing," she said.

"It places families under pressure and puts children at risk."

Ms Atkins says if these children do not get help, they can develop further issues later on.

"Their mental health issues can escalate, they can develop drug and alcohol issues, they can become homeless for longer periods of time and completely disengage in education with many ending up in the youth justice system," she said.

"VCOSS is calling on the Victorian Government to set aside money in the coming state budget to help welfare groups cater for pre-teens.

"VCOSS believes a key priority in the upcoming state budget needs to be specific supports for vulnerable children," Ms Atkins said.







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