The Family and Community Services portfolio is responsible for a broad range of social policy issues affecting Australian society and the living standards of Australian families, communities and individuals.
The portfolio is responsible for income support, housing policy, community support, disability services, child care services and family issues, including family payments, child support and family relationships.
The portfolio spends almost $50 billion a year on providing its programs and services-about one third of Commonwealth budget spending.
The portfolio consists of:
the Department of Family and Community Services (FaCS) which incorporates the Child Support Agency,
CRS Australia and the Social Security Appeals Tribunal;
Centrelink, which delivers income support payments and services on behalf of FaCS;
the Australian Institute of Family Studies.
The portfolio has two ministers. The Minister for Family and Community Services is Senator the Hon Jocelyn Newman. The second portfolio minister, the Minister for Community Services, is the Hon Larry Anthony, MP.
FaCS has its national office in Canberra and employs about 5,500 staff at locations around Australia.
The Secretary of the Department is Dr David Rosalky.
FaCS advises the Government on all policy issues within the portfolio, and manages the delivery of FaCS services through a range of service providers.
FaCS also advises the Government on the social policy implications of wider government policy including taxation, superannuation and savings policy.
As well as families, FaCS focuses on groups with differing needs such as young people and students, people living in rural and remote areas, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and people from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds.
The department's priorities
The vision of FaCS is to create a fair and cohesive Australian society by strengthening the capacity of individual, families and communities to contribute to, and benefit from, greater involvement in all aspects of life.
FaCS has as its focus the following three key social policy outcomes:
Outcome 1 - Stronger Families
Recognising the contribution of families to the overall health and well-being of individuals and society, FaCS will:
assist families to build their capacity and their resilience, including through supporting and strengthening relationships;
facilitate families in selecting and receiving the help they need at times of transition or crisis.
Outcome 2 - Stronger Communities
Building on the capabilities of communities, FaCS will:
encourage the development of community capacity for self-help;
help to ameliorate the effects of pressures on and within communities;
facilitate partnerships between business, community groups and governments to achieve well-targeted and tailored solutions.
Outcome 3 - Economic and Social Participation
To maximise the engagement of all Australians in society, FaCS will:
encourage economic and social participation by individuals and families by enabling access and promoting opportunities;
foster a culture of self-reliance in the community and provide an effective safety net;
develop partnerships with key stakeholders (other departments, business and community organisations and service providers) to improve efficiency and effectiveness of services, to identify emerging problems and to develop appropriate policy responses.
Complementing these social policy outcomes are the following three key strategies:
Prevention through capacity building and early intervention
assisting with capacity building and early intervention to reduce the incidence of social and economic marginalisation caused by financial and personal crises
Promoting independence, choice and self-reliance
- fostering appropriate understanding, expectations and behaviours in the community
Maintaining a strong and sustainable social safety net
- encompassing income support, accommodation and support services
emphasising integration of programs and service