In response to today’s damning report by the Herald Sun, national children’s charity Adopt Change is calling for critical action by the Victorian government to ensure they provide their children in state care with family based caring homes rather than allowing them to be exposed to harm in unsupervised placements.
Today’s damning report from the Herald Sun reveals children as young as eight in Victoria’s state care system are allegedly being left alone in residential care houses for up to 10 hours a day and at times overnight without access to food or clean clothing. The report further outlines children as young as ten years old being exposed to instances of violence and sexual abuse whilst in residential care. With over 500 of the over 9,000 children in government care in Victoria living in non-home-based care options, immediate action must be taken to ensure they are adequately housed and provided safety, stability and therapeutic care for their healing from trauma.
Further to the recent call by Adopt Change to all Australian governments to ensure a Home and Healing for Every Child in the care system, the group are highlighting the responsibility of government as the legal parent of children in the care system. If government removes a child from their parents due to safety concerns, the onus then rests with government to be held to the same account to provide the expected level of care – a safe and nurturing family home, free from abuse or neglect.
Adopt Change, a national charity with a vision of a home for every child that is safe, nurturing and stable, suggests the report outlines the compounding issue of insufficient care of children in Victoria’s state child protection system who are not living in home-based care and condemns the alleged exposure to drugs, violence and sexual exploitation detailed by whistleblower case workers. The charity calls out the critical need to immediately prioritise investing in the care of vulnerable children and young people, and advocates for appropriate, safe home-cased care as the best course of action to providing a better future for these kids. This includes ensuring the carer role in Victoria is viable and sustainable through appropriate funding supports for the role of foster and kinship carers, along with facilitating the full continuum of care options in the best interest of children in care.
Adopt Change CEO Renée Carter says “It is a child’s right to be safe and to grow up in the care of a family home. The abuse and neglect of a child while in government care is tragedy that calls for immediate action. These children are essentially living in ‘pop-up orphanages’ in lieu of home-based care, and more authorised carer homes with families who can give a child a stable and safe upbringing must be recruited, trained and sufficiently supported. Child protection is about what is in the best interests of the child, and while the priority is always to keep children with their family, when this is not safe or practical to do so, other options must be urgently explored. Every child has the right to a safe, nurturing childhood. There is a critical need to provide a community of support for at-risk children and young people and we want to ensure they know that their right to safety and stability are a priority.”
Currently in Victoria, carers are unable to access life-long stability for the children in their care via adoption. Instead, the most children and carers can hope for is the provision of Permanent Care Orders, which expire when the child turns eighteen.
“It is not enough to just survive the child protection system. We want children and young people to thrive and know they have support which lasts a lifetime. Now is the time for government and the community alike to step up and show commitment toward better outcomes for at-risk children and young people,” concludes Ms Carter.
You can read more about the care options available in Victoria on the Adopt Change website HERE
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About Adopt Change
Adopt Change is a not-for-profit organisation with a mission to support and educate families and communities in caring for displaced children (including those in foster care or orphaned) to achieve our vision of a world where all children grow, learn, play and thrive in a safe, nurturing and stable environment. We provide support resources, training, education and programs to work towards achieving this goal.
Adopt Change recognises the impacts of impermanency and trauma and we support families through workshops and online resources; research; pre- and post-permanency supports; trauma informed supports; information and community events; as well as working with governments, departments and the sector to address issues surrounding permanency for children.
We work to raise community awareness of the importance of meeting these rights for children; and empower Australians to work towards all children having positive life outcomes. We support capacity building of families to ensure that vulnerable children are able to remain within their family of origin where possible. When that is not possible or safe, we advocate for other timely and permanent options, including adoption.
Adopt Change operates the government-funded program My Forever Family NSW to recruit, train, support and advocate for foster carers, kinship carers, guardians and adoptive parents for children in out of home care in NSW.
National Adoption & Permanency Awareness Month is held during November and is coordinated by Adopt Change to promote improvement to permanency legislation, policy and practice to facilitate a community where a child’s right to stability is prioritised. National Adoption Awareness Week was founded by Deborra-lee Furness in 2008.
About Renée Carter
Renée Carter is the CEO of Adopt Change and a passionate advocate for the wellbeing of children and young people. She leads a team of Adopt Change Changemakers nationally, with major activities including the #THRIVE National Permanency Conference; My Forever Family NSW; Yesvember A Home for Every Child campaign; MyPacks first night back packs; Empower Change; along with engagement with community, government, child welfare sector; and regularly sought to speak with media about child welfare, permanency and adoption.
Renée is a member of the Institute Advisory Group for the independent research centre, Institute of Open Adoption Studies (The University of Sydney); a member of various government and cross-sector advisory groups and taskforces; and was previously Vice Chair of NSW Committee on Adoption and Permanent Care (COAPC).
She is a member of Australian Institute of Company Directors, with a background in communications and executive management, along with board level experience in corporate and not-for-profit sectors. Her experience includes three years as Chair of charity Child Abuse Prevention Service (CAPS), an organisation focused on early intervention, education and support of families and communities; and Managing Director of creative corporate and investor communications specialists Designate Group.
Renée is committed to influencing child welfare policy and practice to deliver timely and effective outcomes for children so they can have better childhood experiences and a brighter future.