Labor failing to assist young people in care achieve a Better Future

Today, the Commission for Children and Young People released its ‘keep caringreport in relation to its inquiry into services for young people transitioning from Victoria’s out-of-home care system.

According to the commission (p 21), “Victoria’s [OOHC] system is not doing enough to help young people plan and prepare for their future after care.”

The commission found that young people who have left out-of-home care experience much poorer life outcomes than their peers:

  • Nearly one-third of young people experience homelessness
  • About half will present or be admitted to hospital due to acute mental health concerns
  • Almost one-quarter will be involved with the youth justice system

The review of 166 files of young people in Victoria’s out-of-home care system aged 16-18 revealed serious and systemic failings, including:

  • High level of placement instability with nearly two-thirds having experienced five or more placements
  • Majority of young people in out-of-home care, including from particularly vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, did not have a leaving care plan as required by DHHS guidelines
  • When leaving care, planning did occur and it was generally of poor quality

The commission identified the following barriers to effective leaving care planning:

  • Administrative difficulties in locating plans on DHHS’ Client Relationship Information System database
  • High workloads and frequent staff turnover within Child Protection and funded agencies
  • Lack of capability and training in Child Protection practitioners and funded agency workers to plan for young people’s transition from care; and
  • Poor oversight of leaving care planning

This report comes just one month after the Victorian Ombudsman found that Victoria’s Child Protection residential care system “continues to fail” in relation to the management of incidents of sexual and physical abuse within the system.

The Ombudsman found that children in need of State care “…end up more damaged, with even greater odds to overcome to lead meaningful and productive lives.”

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Child Protection, Nick Wakeling:

“At a time when the Victorian Ombudsman has recently found that children within Victoria’s Child Protection residential care system end up more damaged and with the odds stacked against them for a better future, today’s Commissioner’s report is deeply troubling.

“Widespread systemic issues in the Andrews Labor Government’s leaving care services sound the death knell for any hope these children have for a brighter future.

“It is time the Andrews Labor Government took its statutory and moral duty to assist young people transition to independence seriously.”

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