Vulnerable kids must have birth certificates

The Andrews Labor Government must urgently make changes to ensure the births of children in care are registered, and they have birth certificates.

While there is no data on the scale of the problem, carers report that it can take many years and constant advocacy to get a birth registered. Foster care agencies also say a very significant number of vulnerable children currently have no birth certificates.

This has huge implications. To cite just one example, these at-risk children are unable to access early learning services – which they desperately need.

Kinders understandably require documentation for enrolment. Experts in agencies who work with children known to child protection estimate that between 20 and 30 per cent go to kinder.

The most recent figures for the specific kinder program for vulnerable kids, Early Start, show only 36 per cent of children known to child protection have ever attended.

To put this into context, almost 90 per cent of all Victorian kids attend kindergarten. This discrepancy is unacceptable.

Other dire implications include access to health care.

Over many years, foster care groups have called on the Labor Government to fix this very serious problem by:

  • giving Child Protection the power to register births under all court orders;
  • clarifying that the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing is a person of interest and can apply to register a birth under the Birth Deaths and Marriages Act Vic 1996;
  • giving Child Protection the power to obtain the necessary personal parental information to complete a birth registration.

All of these are simple and sensible proposals, which the government has failed to consider.

With huge numbers of additional children coming into Victoria’s care system, the Andrews Labor Government must finally address this very serious issue as a matter of urgency.

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

“Children in the care of the state have so many barriers to overcome. Instead of seeking to remove obstacles in their way, the Andrews Labor Government is making their lives even harder.

“Urgent action is needed to make sure the births of all vulnerable kids are registered, and they all have birth certificates.”

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