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

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 March 2016

Harriet Churchill
Department of Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield E-mail:
Barbara Fawcett
Department of Social Policy and Social Work, University of Birmingham E-mail:


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.

Themed Section on Intensive Family Support Services: Politics, Policy and Practice Across Contexts
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2016 

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