Labor’s spin won’t save kids in crisis

Victoria is in the midst of a deadly child protection crisis. Leaked, highly confidential government documents have revealed that 65 kids known to child protection died last year. That’s an increase of 150 per cent since 2018. Many died directly because of government failures.

The incompetent Minister for Child Protection, after weeks of silence, has finally responded.

Yet instead of taking responsibility and putting in place the full, independent inquiry that the Liberal Nationals have been calling for, all he has given us is spin.

Luke Donnellan’s article in the weekend media was a farrago of self-congratulation, delusion, half-truths and outright lies.

In fact, every single claim he made about Labor’s broken child protection system was deeply misleading, or completely untrue.

Claim: “We report publicly and to parliament on major incidents in out of home care. That’s something I will never shy away from”.

Fact: It took a whistle blower to reveal heart-breaking information about the deaths of kids in care. You can’t get more major than that. The government has sought to ban media reporting, through an injunction.

Claim: The Government is “making a fundamental shift to support families early on, before they reach crisis point”.

Fact: This is completely untrue. The Commissioner for Children and Young People has slammed the government for its failure to intervene earlier to support vulnerable kids. Research by Social Ventures Australia shows the number of Victorian kids in child protection will drastically increase by 2026 – to an eye-watering 26,000 – specifically because of a lack of early intervention support for vulnerable families. 

Claim: “We’ve also extended care to 21 years of age so young people leaving care don’t fall through the cracks”.

Fact: Cracks? More like the Grand Canyon. The secret government documents leaked to the media last month show a record number of 14 kids committed suicide after leaving care in 2020.

Claim: “We continue to drive a culture of accountability and improvement, within child protection”.

Fact: The Minister’s got more front than Myer to make this claim. Just last month the government sought an injunction against the media to avoid accountability and stop reporting of its child protection crisis.

They have not even bothered to respond to my urgent calls for a full audit of the backgrounds of foreign child protection workers, after the Minister admitted hiring a known sex pest from overseas.

Claim: “We’re expanding the therapeutic treatments available in residential care”.

Fact: Kids in residential care have never been less supported, less safe. 7,300 kids suffered serious physical and sexual abuse in 2019-20 whilst in residential care. And there were more than 2000 cases where teens ran away from residential units to escape, among other abominations, being groomed and abducted by paedophiles.

Claim: “We’re hiring hundreds more child protection workers”.

Fact: Government annual reports prove Labor has cut front-line staff. There were 71 fewer support workers in 2019-20 than in 2018-19, despite many more kids in care.

Claim: “We’ve got a full-time cop on the beat – the independent Commission for Children and Young People”.

Fact: So why won’t the government accept and act on its advice? The Commission – a Liberal Nationals initiative – has been highly critical of the Government. It’s said that: “Child Protection’s assessment and intervention was often delayed, in some cases for months, leaving young children in vulnerable situations.”

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Child Protection, Matt Bach:

“The Andrews Labor Government’s spin won’t save one single vulnerable Victorian child.

“Instead, Labor must finally put in place a full, independent inquiry into Victoria’s crisis-plagued child protection system.”

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