Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens' Leader and Human Services spokesperson
Chronic, systemic underfunding of child protection in Tasmania has laid the ground for businesses to profit from the abuse and neglect of children who are in the Out of Home Care system.
While the Minister for Human Services has rightly initiated a review into the for-profit provider at the centre of disturbing allegations of a failed duty of care, Mrs Petrusma also needs to seize the opportunity to pull back from allowing profit-making businesses to have responsibility for highly vulnerable children.
There is something obviously wrong with the system when a government agency agrees to enter into an arrangement with a private operator who charges more than $9000 a week for a high needs child, but only allocates $100 to feed them for a week and then houses them in hotels and caravan parks.
Profits and the protection of vulnerable children do not mix, particularly when there are already inadequate safeguards and staff in place to ensure young people in out of home care are receiving the best of care and that all their needs are being met.
The Minister was asked in Parliament to detail the funding allocated to this particular for-profit provider but was unable to provide this information today.
This is a matter of significant public interest. Public funding is potentially not being used for its intended purpose, in this instance, meeting the care and support needs of some of the State’s most vulnerable young people.
It’s time to walk away from allowing profit-making enterprises into the child protection space. It’s well past time all vacancies in the child protection service were filled and caseloads brought down to a manageable level.
The Commissioner for Children and Young People, Mark Morrissey, has reiterated his call for an independent advocate to monitor the child protection and out of home care system in Tasmania. Without this measure in place, children will continue to fall through the cracks, let down by the State as their guardian.
The Minister needs to listen to her chief adviser on the wellbeing of the State’s children and young people.