Refocusing on Early Intervention and Family Support: A Review of Child Welfare Reforms in New South Wales, Australia

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Since 2000, the New South Wales (NSW) Government in Australia has pursued major child welfare reforms. Responding to the ‘crisis in child protection’ and informed by a public health approach, key aims were to prevent child maltreatment and promote child welfare by ‘expanding and enhancing early intervention and family services’. This article critically reviews the aims, approach and main developments in NSW. The article argues that in several respects the reforms extended and enhanced early intervention and family services in cost-effective ways but suffered from implementation problems, limitations in service developments and major reform challenges which inhibited their scope and impacts. These limitations raise critical issues about the reform framework, resource constraints and ideological influences.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-316
Number of pages13
JournalSocial Policy and Society
Issue number02
Early online date10 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016


  • Family Support, Early Intervention, Child protection, social investment, prevention, family policy, critical practice