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Liberals the answer to child protection woes?

By johnboy - 6 January 2012 23

The Liberals’ Vicki Dunne is making hay from the latest in a long line of reviews into child protection in the ACT:

As the ACT Labor Government launches yet another review into care and protection, it is clear that the only way to fix the systems entrenched problems is through a change of government, according to ACT Shadow Family and Community Services Minister, Vicki Dunne.

Seven years ago, the ACT Labor Government was warned through the Vardon review of the care and protection system that there is a critical lack of quality placement options for children and young people needing the care and protection of the Territory Parent, Mrs Dunne said today.

Last year, the Public Advocate slammed the same government, for the same problems, saying care and protection breached the law 24 times which had a serious and detrimental impact on children for whom the Director General has responsibility.

After seven years of failing our most vulnerable children, the time for tokenism is over. This ACT Labor Government cannot manage care and protection and another review will not change that, or fix its inherent cultural problems.

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23 Responses to
Liberals the answer to child protection woes?
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GardeningGirl 10:44 pm 13 Jan 12

This thread, and especially Icepoet’s post, has been on my mind.

BDoubleC 10:10 pm 09 Jan 12

Furry Jesus said :

The lack of interest in this topic is a sad reflection of the lack of interest in child protection issues, not just in Canberra, but in every other state and territory.

The biggest problem is having decent alternatives for children being removed from their parents’ care. Last year foster care agency recruitment netted only 15 new families (total for all agencies combined). I once worked on a specialist program with high needs kids (product of seriously abusive and neglectful families). We offered a higher rate of carer allowance so at least one of the parents didn’t need to work, and the quality of applicants made me want to put a gun to my head. “Do we have to spend the money on the children?”

There isn’t a government in Australia, or anywhere else in the world for that matter, that can run an effective system when most of the community don’t give a shit. Regardless of political orientation. The Carnell government presided over the same problems, and had the same struggles.

The work is tough, abuse of staff is common, the workload is appalling, and staff turnover is high, with only a few good people staying long enough to develop good skills and move into supervisory positions where they can give decent support to front line workers.

As for not-for-profits like the one who took the children into care in that old police station…don’t get me started. The commitment to training and supervision is erratic at best, and they have even bigger problems attracting good staff than the ACT government. If you’re a good worker, you’re relied on to bail them out with the tough cases all the time. You’re constantly in demand for extra work, you get tired and burnt out, but if you try to manage your workload you come under intense pressure, being made to feel guilty/selfish, and resented if you don’t give into begging…as if its your fault that the agency has only has relatively (or profoundly) unskilled incompetents to fall back on. Agencies are desperately over-reliant on their ‘diamond’ (hard to find) staff, but don’t really rise to the challenge of training because it reduces the profit margin. And is probably useless when the quality of the recruitment pool is so low as to be a waste of training resources anyway.

Without enough decent, intelligent and trainable staff and foster carers, too many agencies (including not-for-profits) lapse into warehousing as a second-best alternative for many of the children they care for. The ongoing experience of neglect in care for these children is never really discussed. We just focus on the occasional newsworthy incident of bad decision-making, abuse or tragic death, because it gives us the chance to wag our finger, like Vicki Dunne.

The ACT government didn’t need the Vardon report to be warned of a lack of quality placement options. Every foster care agency experiences this on a daily basis, and the government hears their accounts all the time.

Vicki Dunne doesn’t offer any clues as to how a change of government would create new quality placements, or sufficient numbers of them. Perhaps there’s a stack of ACT Liberals members who’ve signed a secret pledge to come on board as foster carers, once they’re in government. Or they’ve cracked the secret behind that loaves and fishes trick (Bible reference, for the uninitiated)…

Glad I didn’t get started.

AMEN…. so well said.

GardeningGirl 1:17 pm 09 Jan 12

poetix said :

Furry Jesus said :

questioning my ability to cope with difficult behaviour, especially as it might affect other family members. I think that my doubts would reflect the views of many people, so it is valuable to read your comments about your own generally positive experience of foster care. We usually only hear of failures, which might put people off fostering too much.


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