Women reported that this return to work was usually by economic necessity. Families where someone had a disability or a mental illness, or where they were parenting alone, faced an even greater challenge. In the past, that sense of independence and history of self-governance contributed to the prosperity of Norfolk Island.
Vulnerable people who lack a supportive extended family find themselves without a safety net to support them in times of trouble. Thus policies such as paid parental leave and programs that impact on the quality of early childhood education and care services and maternal health services have ificant impacts on human resource development and future Island prosperity.
As such the health insurance scheme creates perverse incentives—those who are better off generally enjoy better health and are able to access health care, whilst those with poorer health are discouraged from seeking health care because of cost. Families reported their experiences of "doing it tough" in a harsh economic environment.
There are also times when self-reliance creates a reluctance to seek help, resulting in vulnerable people falling through the net of family and community concern. Our experience of meeting with Norfolk Island children, young people and their families highlighted for us the considerable strength and resilience demonstrated by Norfolk Island families and communities. Within a family support policy and practice context, notions of more ed up community-based responses that take into broader family circumstances, built on strengths and tailored to need, are seen as critical to the prevention efforts of both government and non-government services.
There is relatively strong evidence that the economic downturn is impacting the quality of life on Norfolk Island and resulting in the depreciation of social capital. Scott 1. It was not unusual for people to talk about needing to work at three or four jobs in order to make ends meet.
It has been shown across time and across countries that health is directly related to income; people on low incomes have poorer health whereas those on high incomes have much better health. We also were concerned about the perverse effects of the health insurance scheme operating on Norfolk Island. Tertiary child protection services are a last resort, and the least desirable option for families and governments. It allows no time for the woman to recover after the physical tasks of pregnancy and birthing, it complicates breastfeeding, and has the potential to interfere with critical processes of bonding and attachment between the baby and the important adults in their lives.
To maximise the participation of young people and their families we arranged for an item to be placed in The Norfolk ISLANDER explaining the purpose of the review and the importance of wide consultation. If things were tough for families, however, then there were even more difficult for families with additional needs; families that had with a disability or mental illness, families where one of the children had been ill and required time off island, or sole parents with no financial support from the other parent.
The lack of reliable data has frustrated our efforts to assess in depth the wellbeing of Norfolk Island children, young people and families, both now and across time. As such, increases in the cost of living have a relatively strong impact on welfare. They found that over 25 per cent of the population indicated they had missed an electricity, gas or telephone bill in the past 12 months due to a shortage of money compared to 12 per cent in mainland Australia.
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Within this review we have examined Norfolk Island service framework across this continuum, considering both the broad and specific needs of children, young people and their families. This is so internationally and across Australian state jurisdictions:.
Even allowing for the absence of income tax, incomes on Norfolk Island are relatively low. As such we have framed the sections of the report to address these three domains. Consider how the Norfolk Island Government can help to support children and young people to reach their potential and assist individuals and families who are at risk or in crisis. Families with high incomes can carry this cost whereas poorer families are unable to and as a consequence will avoid seeking health care, a response that is deleterious to their health.
The economic downturn on Norfolk Island has been relatively severe, and can be described as an economic depression. Nobel Laureate economist James Heckman has powerfully demonstrated this and argues that directing additional funds toward the early years, before the start of traditional schooling, is a sound investment in the productivity and safety of our society. The service continuum seeks to support those families identify and reduce situations of current harm and support strong, capable families. For example, they may neglect the management of chronic illnesses, or they may fail to take preventative measures to avoid hospitalisation and so on.
It is interesting to note that unpublished data from the health survey undertaken by Professor Lyn Griffiths from Griffith University, shows an increase in self reported mental health concerns by Norfolk Island residents from 8.
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The challenges facing Norfolk Island in providing a continuum of services have implications for children, young people and families, for professionals, and for the community more broadly. Service systems across Australia strive to develop a strong continuum of services, consistent with the expectations of the National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children.
In contrast the development and implementation of a quality framework in early childhood has been an important focus for mainland Australian policy and investment. Consequently self report and report by professional's form a bigger role in this report than might otherwise be the case. These strengths are important. Programs impacting on the quality of early childhood education and care are especially ificant for Norfolk Island as it has a 25 per cent higher participation in preschool than mainland Australia Yet despite this higher participation rate, Norfolk Island has no standards covering these services.
It is clear that many of the services and provisions available to people on mainland Australia are not accessible to people on Norfolk Island. All said they would have wanted to stay with their babies. Consider practices, procedures and resources within the Norfolk Island Government with direct responsibilities in this area, and also consider how the government and non-government organisation agencies might contribute to a more effective protection and support network.
It also makes planning more difficult as trends cannot be identified and tracked, nor can the impacts of interventions be assessed. More intensive secondary prevention interventions are provided to those families that need additional assistance with a focus on early intervention.
Economic hardship ran through almost all our conversations with families on Norfolk Island. The links between family hardship and other dimensions of child wellbeing—physical health, housing, safety and psychological wellbeing—are well established 2. While there has been more effort to recover debts it is unlikely such dramatic increases would result solely from a more vigorous approach to recovering bad debts. As the close relationship between problems such as poverty, mental illness, homelessness, substance misuse, unemployment, crime, antisocial behaviour, poor health, low literacy and child abuse and neglect is increasingly understood, new ways of thinking and responding to this challenge are emerging.
Increasingly, therefore, it is recognised that creating a responsive child, young person and family support system requires the development of a continuum of services that support diverse family need. We were also interviewed on Norfolk Island radio, and received a volume of s from community stakeholders expressing their views and perspectives relating to the availability and quality of services on the island. Many costs on Norfolk Island are greater than on the mainland, and the cost of living on Norfolk Island has been increasing faster than on the mainland.
Identify barriers and issues associated with the provision of effective children and family support services. Any measure of women's health and child development policy would suggest this to be unacceptable. The privileging of history, culture and environment is another important aspect of Norfolk Island identity. In the many meetings we had we also heard that Norfolk Island life is inevitably changing. Nevertheless, when we talked with people we found that many are concerned about the way in which Norfolk Island self-governance has impacted upon their rights as Australian residents.
Figure 1: a continuum of services to support children, young people and families. Many people expressed the view that the value and benefits of fully entering Australian Government systems outweigh the perceived lessening of aspects of the island's autonomy and management of its own affairs. Solutions depend upon the combined support of the Australian Government and Norfolk Island Government. Women spoke to us of returning to work within 3—4 weeks of their baby's birth, some returned to work as soon as one week after giving birth.
The research supports their concern. They create a unique set of community expectations that reinforce a proud culture that has withstood many challenges over the decades. Within the contemporary child protection and family welfare environment most jurisdictions are striving to move beyond reactive investigative responses toward more needs-based interventions and services that will support the interests of vulnerable children and their families.
Whilst children and families have been supported by a strong extended kin network, this is now not the case for everyone. Hence the review has taken into consideration empirical data, professional reports, and the reported experiences of families, professionals, decision-makers and community leaders. They conclude that "the levels of financial stress on Norfolk Island are higher than elsewhere in Australia" Family economic stability is exacerbated by Norfolk Island's concentrated wage structure 12and high cost of living for essentials such as food, utilities and transport When combined with increasing job insecurity from the downturn in tourism 14this is creating ificant financial and emotional stressors.
Disagreement over this within the Island community and between the Norfolk Island Government and successive Australian Governments has restricted the development of a strong service sector supporting Norfolk Island children, young people and families, despite successive reviews and recommendations for change. The findings of earlier reviews 5 and the extent of the distress and concern expressed by people within the Norfolk Island community suggests that the Norfolk Island Government alone is not able to close the gaps of disadvantage and promote lifelong wellbeing for children, young people and families living in Norfolk Island.
We observed and heard about the valuing of family including extended family and community life; the strong work ethic; the child-friendly physical environment; the high level of self-reliance and resilience in the face of adversity; and the valuing of history, culture and environment.
It would seem this personal experience is borne out by the sharp increase in more objective measures such as the recovery of unpaid debts to the Norfolk Island Government as Table 1 demonstrates. The findings and recommendations of the review are organised within a systemic framework addressing levels across the continuum of services.
This return to work pattern in children entering child care very early, something that is particularly worrying as it impacts on the immediate and longer term wellbeing of infants. Stress and exhaustion not only impacts on the health of the parent, it also impacts on the quality of the child's experience of being parented. These personal experiences were validated by community members who provided help through their church or their club and by professionals across the service sector.
Having a parent work is positive for children because it provides family economic stability, one of the preconditions for wellbeing. Many adults spoke about feeling tired and stressed, and how they struggled to fulfil their parenting role. It is also clear that financial constraints and economic limitations prevent the Norfolk Island Government from providing the universal safety net that is taken for granted on mainland Australia.
In their survey of community wellbeing, Deloitte Access Economics, found that 51 per cent of Norfolk Islanders reported they were "just getting by" compared with 28 per cent of mainland Australians 9. This is consistent with the direction for service delivery that has been set by the National Framework 8 :.
's early environment plays a large role in shaping their later outcomes.