The ACT Government today welcomed a performance audit by the Auditor General of the ACT’s Care and Protection System, which makes recommendations around a number of areas for improvement but also supports a number of recent reforms and policies.
Minister for Disability, Children and Young People Joy Burch said the Auditor-General’s recommendations were consistent with a number of reforms already underway to ensure the Care and Protection system’s records are more consistent and up to date.
“The ACT Government has embarked on changes to the Care and Protection System following the Public Advocate’s report last year, and the findings of the Auditor-General’s report show these reforms are focusing on the right areas,” Ms Burch said.
“The report also raises a number of new issues which the Government will work through. The Government has agreed or agreed in principle to all the recommendations in the report, which will inform the reform package currently underway.”
Changes the Government will begin implementing immediately include introducing a requirement that all children in care be visited at least annually by Care and Protection staff, and additional record-keeping training for Care and Protection staff and staff of non-government out-of home care agencies.
“It is worring that the Auditor-General was unable to even say if the Community Services Directorate was ‘providing adequate and immediate support to young people deemed at high risk and vulnerable’ as a result of a range of issues identified in her audit.” states Mr Hanson.
The Auditor-General also raised significant concerns with the Directorates electronic system (CHYPS) which appears to be failing across a range of important areas.
Amongst the negative findings, the Auditor General concluded that:
– The Director General cannot rely on the Directorate’s own system to provide accurate information to be able to answer the question for all those in care, particularly the whereabouts of where they were, including during school hours.
– Some children and young people, after being placed on long term orders, may never be visited. Furthermore; there is no policy to guide visitations for monitoring the welfare of children.
– The Directorate’s management of information and records on care and protection is poor.
– Governance arrangements that affect the Care and Protection Service are poor.
– ACT Government directorates and entities need to improve their coordination and sharing of information so that greater support is given to children and young people who may need care and protection services.
– Monitoring the provision of out-of-home care by community service providers is poor.
– A misalignment in reporting numbers of section 507 and annual review reports presents the risk that some children and young people may not be monitored and offered advocacy support.