The latest Department of Human Services annual report stated a spike in child abuse notifications. The report states that “there were 64 cases of substantiated abuse of children in out-of-home care completed last year, which includes physical and sexual abuse, up from 54 the previous year.”
In a different report by the Commission for Children and Young People has raised serious concerns about the over-representation of indigenous children in state care, saying the present rate of Aboriginal child removal in Victoria “exceeds that at any time since white settlement”. About one in six young people in out-of-home care in Victoria are Aboriginal. Read more here:
Are cases being closed too soon?
Why is there such a rise in family violence?
Why are the staffing conditions of case workers overlooked resulting in the detriment of children at risk of harm?
These pending questions bring us to the realisation that our systems may be in crisis. When figures emerge such as “2.8 per cent of vulnerable children were not assigned a caseworker” it leads us to think what can be done to avoid these scenarios of abuse and neglect and build sustainable, safe futures for our children in Australia.
Although there are programs in place, like that of the Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency which places Aboriginal children removed from their families in the care of an Aboriginal person to grow up knowing their identity.
There have been reports that Aboriginal children were over-represented in out-of-home-care due to issues of family violence, drugs and alcohol. Homelessness and poverty have also come up as key issues in these more isolated areas.
Could this be an issue of keeping up with demand and limited support?
A recent tragedy that highlights these issues is the case of the Cairns mother of Torres Strait Islander background who came from a tight-knit community is responsible for the deaths of her seven children and a niece. The victims ranged from 18 months old to 15 years in age.
This is known as one of the worst mass murders in Australian History. Read more here
There are clearly gaps in the system and room to improve programs and service delivery to protect vulnerable children.
- Dr John Simmonds, Director of Policy Research and Development, British Association for Adoption and Fostering,
- Robyn Miller, Chief Practitioner and Director Office of Professional Practice, Department of Human Services, VIC
- Simone Walker, Executive Director Safe Home for Life, Department of Family and Community Services, NSW,
- Professor Muriel Bamblett, Chief Executive Officer, Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency