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Budget 2022: More family support services 'critical'

·News Reporter
·3-min read
A mother and father, each with a son on their back, smile while standing in front of their house, ahead of the budget.
Will families be all smiles when the 2022 Federal Budget is announced? (Source: Getty)

Families are still struggling, months after COVID lockdowns and restrictions eased, making this month’s Federal Budget critical for extra funding for appropriate support services, according to Relationships Australia.

Yahoo Finance spoke to Relationships Australia national executive officer Nick Tebbey, who said demand for family support services - such as mental health and financial support - in the wake of COVID-19 was the “number one priority for parents” in the lead-up to the March 29 Budget.

“What we’ve seen is the increased pressure on families and issues around mental health and well-being for children, for parents and relationships generally,” Tebbey said.

“We’re seeing, particularly in some states, increases to our waiting lists and to the demand for services, and quite a significant increase in complexity of the need. So, the priority is to increase vital funding across those relationship and children’s services to meet that demand.

“What we’ve seen in relation to COVID, right across the country, particularly in areas where there’s been longer lockdowns, people have been under pressure financially and in relationships trying to balance home schooling and all those things.”

Mental health and domestic violence support needed

Tebbey said increased numbers of parents had contacted Relationships Australia seeking support for various issues resulting from hard lockdowns and restrictions, particularly for mental health and domestic violence.

“We’ve seen issues presenting themselves across our services, including an increase in the number of clients that are seeking help in relation to domestic and family violence ... there is the need to increase support for separating families,” he said.

“There is increased anxiety and other issues of mental health in clients of all ages and particularly in relation to children’s well-being and the impact that has on the family unit.”

Early-intervention programs key

One key support service Tebbey would like to see in the Budget is early-intervention programs for parents and families, to head off any issues before they become serious.

“There are a range of really successful government services, that are backed up by research, that are there to provide early support to families," he said.

"The sooner that people are able to reach out and seek support, the easier it is to avoid some of the more acute issues from arising.

“Support services that help people build respectful relationships and support one another through their relationships are proven to be a really crucial foundation from which other challenges can be withstood and people can come back stronger from it.

“In order for our families and communities to thrive, we need to make sure that those early-intervention support services are available and are accessible.”

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