Senate Inquiry Slams Out of Home Care System
20 August 2015 at 12:29 pm
A Senate committee has recommended a shake-up of the out-of-home care system, which was found to be failing children in care.
The inquiry was prompted by troubling figures that show the number of young people in out-of-home care has doubled in the past 15 years, and on June 30 2014, 43,009 children were in care.
The report, tabled yesterday by Greens Senator Rachel Siewart, made 39 recommendations to improve poor outcomes for children in the system.
“Our recommendations cover a wide range of issues such as the need for effective data, the need for independent child commissioners and guardians, leaving care, a process for complaint from young people and the need for the voice of young people in decision making processes,” Senator Siewart said.
“At the moment young people turning 18 being pushed out of care are experiencing poorer life outcomes, the report recommends the states and territories consider increasing the transition age to 21.
“The Committee recognises the significant challenges facing the system, and addressing this means addressing systemic and interrelated issues linked to social disadvantage including family violence, drug and alcohol abuse and mental health services.
“We noted the lack of family support services to build safe and resilient environments for children. We must support parents who are at risk of losing their children and make sure their voices are heard.”
Anglicare Australia made submissions to the inquiry and, coinciding with the release of the Senate report, is holding a two-day forum in Melbourne into out-of-home care.
Executive Director, Kasy Chambers, while pleased with the recommendations, said she was concerned that tangible change will take too long.
“We’re not surprised by the recommendations… but I’m relatively pessimistic about them occurring in the short-term,” Chambers said.
“When we talk about long and short-term in this kind of service commitment, a year is a long time in the life of a child. That’s the difference between someone coming to our services at the age of two and the age of four.
“We’re going to look to imbed not just these recommendations but take steps much further than that. We’re not going to wait for COAG, we’re not going to wait for a national system.”
Chambers said the need to “take our own action” was a strong theme among service provides at the forum.
“We’ve seen a real energy and commitment from leaders across our network to not wait until reports are put into place, but actually to take action ahead of that,” she said.
Read the Senate report HERE