Anglicare Issues Child Abuse Apology
3 July 2014 at 12:04 pm
Child welfare agency Anglicare Victoria has issued a public apology over claims of abuse of young children in its care, saying it is devastated by the incidents highlighted in the Children’s Court.
The statement said Anglicare Victoria was sorry for any impact on the children.
The apology comes after the ABC reported on court hearings that “children in the care of the Department of Human Services were subjected to horrifying sexual and physical abuse by older children at Victorian residential care facilities”.
The Minister for Community Services Mary Wooldridge told the ABC an investigation had found it was the right decision to remove the children from their parents, but there was negligence on the part of Anglicare.
“My view is that there have been mistakes made along the way in terms of managing the care of these children,” Wooldridge said.
Anglicare said in its statement that while acknowledging mistakes were made, caring for the most abused and traumatised children was complex and demanding work.
The agency said it acted immediately once made aware of the incidents and assisted an independent review of them.
It is also calling for a wider review of residential care services to prevent similar incidents.
Anglicare Victoria works with young people living in or exiting state care providing combined accommodation and training programs for at-risk youth, and support programs for children who are leaving out-of-home care.
Anglicare said children and the families of children in care have a right to be safe and to be appropriately cared for and protected.
The agency said the complexities of this mix of children provided a difficult challenge for carers.
“The day-to-day care of children and young people who have histories of abuse and neglect or who have behavioural issues is rarely straightforward, and often very challenging for all concerned,” Anglicare Victoria Chief Executive Officer Paul McDonald said.
“Too often, as has happened in this case, the need to place the child overrides the consideration or suitability of placing different children together in the one unit.
“The mix of children in these units is often inappropriate and this case again highlights the need to review the way children are assessed and enter residential care.
“While the decision on who was placed in this particular home was made by the courts and the Department of Human Services, the unit involved – in which the staff do a remarkable job under difficult circumstances – simply did not have the capacity to provide the level of monitoring each of these young people required in this instance.”
McDonald added that while he and those involved were saddened by what had happened, he would not comment further as the matter was still being considered by the Children’s Court.
He said Anglicare had also acted to boost training and staff numbers at homes with children such as these who require specialised or additional monitoring and support.
Last week a Victorian Government advisory group appointed to drive reforms in out-of-home care met for the first time.
Minister Wooldridge said the Out-of-Home Care Reform Advisory Group would provide expert advice on the implementation of Out-of-Home Care: A Five Year Plan and develop strategies that will dramatically improve the lives of children and young people living in state care.