A federal co-ordination body
6.13 A federal co-ordination office must be centrally located in the policy and program development process to be able to co-ordinate policy development and service delivery across the whole of government. All governments and departments involved in policy and service delivery for children should participate in and share responsibility for the rationalisation and co-ordination process.
6.14 This requires the co-ordinating body to be located within government rather than established as a separate statutory body. It must have close involvement in day-to-day policy debate and be assured of participating vigorously in all stages of policy development. Its views must be appropriately reflected in government legislation, policy and programs affecting children. This could not be achieved if the co-ordination functions were placed in an independent statutory body.
Location of the co-ordination body
6.15 The co-ordination function also must be ‘owned’ by all levels of government. A process managed and directed only at a federal level would be unlikely to gain the vital support of States and Territories, which are primarily responsible for policy and program delivery for children.
6.16 Significant consideration was given to locating the co-ordination role within the DEETYA Youth Bureau. A number of policy analysis, research and liaison functions are carried out by the Youth Bureau. However, this role is diluted by the time and resources spent on the administration of education, employment and training programs. For instance, the Youth Bureau administers JPET and the Green Corps Program, designed to encourage participation by young people in employment, education and training. It also provides career information and guidance services through the provision of ‘The Job Guide’ and other careers information material. The Youth Bureau also may not have the appropriate expertise to deal with issues affecting younger children. Its present focus on young people from 12 to 25 is quite different from the focus of an office to co-ordinate policies and programs for children, even though there is overlap in ages.
6.17 Apart from competing program delivery demands and limitations in scope, a service delivery portfolio such as DEETYA may not be best placed to rationalise policy and muster support from within other federal, State and Territory Government portfolios.
6.18 PM&C is centrally located within the federal Government. It already undertakes across government co-ordination, particularly through the Office of Status of Women and Office of Indigenous Affairs. They provide policy advice, briefing and support to the relevant Ministers and information and administrative support for presentation of the Government’s decisions in these areas. PM&C also has significant experience in liaising with State and Territory Governments. Its central position within government gives it the status necessary to deal effectively with all jurisdictions and ensure participation. It is also responsible for servicing Cabinet. We recommend that OFC be established within PM&C.
State and Territory involvement
6.19 The States and Territories play important roles in relation to children. Various non-government organisations across Australia undertake important work for children. The Inquiry considers it essential that States and Territories and non-government organisations participate in the work of OFC.