The Minister for Children has reached yet another low point with his response to the Commission of Inquiry’s findings of gross and widespread failings to keep children in out of home care safe from child sexual abuse.
Asked by the Greens in Parliament today whether he could guarantee the safety of children in out of home care, the only response Minister Roger Jaensch could muster was that children are being placed into care so they are “less unsafe”. That’s an appalling standard. If the State is going to take the serious step of placing a child in someone’s care, it must ensure that child’s safety – no ifs or buts.
Reading the Commission of Inquiry’s chapter on out of home care is truly disturbing, with numerous devastating case studies and clear current systemic failings. The Commission found children were often without case workers, there was a lack of clarity about Guardianship orders, the complaints system was wholly inadequate, and children were too often ignored if they had the courage to speak up.
Unfortunately the recent grave concerns of the Commission for children in out of home care are not new. Information* previously obtained by the Greens through Right to Information laws has also demonstrated serious issues about the lack of oversight of children in out of home care.
Despite the obvious ongoing risks in out of home care, and the length of time they’ve had to fix an unsafe system, the Government has said nothing concrete about exactly what actions they’re taking today. That’s why we asked the Minister about the oversight his Department is undertaking, including whether every child in out of home care has a care worker, and the number of child safety visits conducted within required timeframes.
We hope to receive a timely response from the Minister in relation to this crucial questions.