Today, the Victorian Ombudsman has issued a harrowing report off the back of her investigation into numerous complaints of physical and sexual assault in relation to five children within Victoria’s Child Protection residential care system.
In her report, the Ombudsman has stated that the experiences of these children are “not new or isolated” and that despite numerous warnings from independent bodies and numerous critical reports, Victoria’s residential care system “continues to fail.”
The report’s findings represent a major indictment of the Andrews Labor Government’s Child Protection system. Significant systemic problems identified by the Ombudsman include: -
Child Protection placing children in unsafe residential care conditions with knowledge of the risks posed to these and other children due to a stretched system;
A failure by certain Community Service Organisations to make mandatory incident reports (including in relation to alleged assaults) and the incorrect classification of major incidents as ‘non-major’;
A failure by Child Protection to action reports of actual or threatened violence to vulnerable children within its care;
A failure to notify Police of violent offences committed against these children;
The Ombudsman also expressed concern over evidence suggesting the use of ‘chemical restraints’ to manage or control the behaviour of some of these children without the laws and protections found in other contexts.
After almost five years in Government, Victoria’s Child Protection system has only worsened at a time when demand for Child Protection services continues to rise.
“Least-worst” options are not good enough. The Andrews Labor Government must start putting the bests interests of Victoria’s most vulnerable children first.
Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Child Protection, Nick Wakeling:
“The Victorian Ombudsman’s report has identified numerous significant and systemic problems within Victoria’s Child Protection residential care system.
“The negligence of the Andrews Labor Government in placing vulnerable children in unsafe situations while aware of the risks is simply unacceptable.
“Least-worst” options are not good enough. The Andrews Labor Government must start putting the bests interests of Victoria’s most vulnerable children first.”