Sobering Stats

November 30, 2007 at 8:52 am | Posted in Around the Nation, Child Protection | Leave a comment

One of my colleagues emailed me the following article concerning child protection statistics for New South Wales.

DOCS to review handling of child protection reports as cases rise
November 30, 2007

THE NSW Department of Community Services has flagged an overhaul of child protection reports because of the surging level of cases of children needing assistance.

“In response to the increasing rate of reported child abuse and neglect, planning began during the year for a major review of the NSW child protection system,” the department said in its annual report, tabled in State Parliament yesterday.

The review’s aim was to create more efficient handling of reports and more effective interventions, it said. “It is anticipated that significant changes will be recommended to the current child protection system as a result of the review.”

In the year to June the number of child protection reports was 286,033, compared with 241,003 a year earlier, and the number of reports referred for further assessment rose by a quarter, to 201,208.

“It is a sad fact that no child protection system in the world can prevent all child deaths,” the department said.

As well, the department said the number of children placed in out-of-home care increased over the year by 20 per cent, from 10,623 to 12,712.

The department was also hit with a surge in requests by the Ombudsman for information over allegations against employees, which totalled 263, up 79 per cent. Overall complaints against the department rose from 1835 to 2324 over the year.


November 20, 2007 at 11:32 am | Posted in Media, Stories | Leave a comment

Last Sunday “60 Minutes” screened an inspiring story about Jackson, a 21 year old with a severe form of autism.   Jackson grew up with two families – his birth family, and a foster family that provided much needed respite for around fourteen years.  The story highlights the incredible contribution foster families can make in the lives of children and their families.  Click here to read a transcript or watch the video.

New Category

November 15, 2007 at 9:54 am | Posted in Foster carer blogs | 6 Comments

I am really keen to hear carers’ stories, and have been trawling the net looking for blogs written by foster parents.  I am struggling to find Australian writers, but have found this one.  I have started a new category to link to carer bloggers. The list won’t be exhaustive, and the writers will not necessarily reflect the opinions of the the contributors to this blog.  However, they will hopefully tell  stories that challenge and encourage, and champion the cause of foster care.  If you know of any that should be linked, please let me know.

Call for Royal Commission

November 14, 2007 at 2:52 pm | Posted in Around the Nation, Child Protection, Media | Leave a comment

It is good to see that the recent events in NSW are being taken seriously.  I wonder if other states will follow suit?  The media’s eyes are on DOCS, but child abuse and child deaths happen Australia wide.  You can read about the royal commission proposal here.

Competing needs

November 13, 2007 at 2:49 pm | Posted in Issues for Fostering, Media | Leave a comment

Joe Tucci (CEO for the Australian Childhood Foundation) has contributed an opinion piece today on the ABC website – you can read it here.   Tucci suggests the development of

“departments of Child Protection where children’s need would not have to compete with the needs of adults, such as those with gambling problems or difficulties with housing. The focus of these new Departments would emphasise the proper investigation of all child abuse and neglect reports rather than gate keeping.”

I think that Tucci’s suggestions would go a long way to correcting the imbalance that has all too frequently seemed to be promoting the needs of parents above the needs of their children.  Change in attitudes and practice is needed accross the board – from courts to the  Departments of Child Protection, and in the wider community.  Separating children’s needs/rights  from the issues of their parents would hopefully lead to decisions and planning that are truly in the best interests of the child.

“Why suffer the children?”

November 9, 2007 at 9:22 am | Posted in Child Protection, Media | Leave a comment

Here’s  a strong and emotive piece in posted online today in the Herald Sun by Andrew Bolt concerning the number of child deaths to hit the press over the last couple of months.  Well worth a read.

A child under threat every two minutes

November 9, 2007 at 9:11 am | Posted in Around the Nation, Child Protection | Leave a comment

Yet another scathing headline hit the media today concerning child protection in New South Wales.  DOCS was quoted as saying that they received a call concerning a child at risk every two minutes.  Perhaps similar challenges exist in other states too, but we are not hearing about them at the moment.  It is easy to respond emotionally to the media coverage, and clearly something needs to be done to adequately resource DOCS to do their job.  But it is disturbing that keeping children safe seems to be only newsworthy in the face of tragedy.  The systems and services that protect and care for children in our communities are constantly stretched.  Supporting families and services should always be a priority for governments and the broader community.  And let’s hear about some of the good work that is being done.  The families that do manage to overcome their challenges.  Children who thrive in foster care.  Communities that are strengthened through education and proactive interventions. 

Mandatory Reporting for all?

November 7, 2007 at 9:37 am | Posted in Around the Nation, Media | Leave a comment

The Department of Community Services in New South Wales (DOCS) has been receiving considerable media attention over the last few months.  This week news of yet another child death in a family known to DOCS has hit the papers.  The recent tragedies highlight a the under-resourcing of protective services, and the continuing struggle for families and communities to care for children appropriately.  Rightly, DOCS is going through a process of review.  However, DOCS and similar services provide tertiary reactive responses to notifications.  And they should be able to react in a timely and effective manner.  But more is needed to keep our children safe. 

Part of the problem is silence.  As a society, we tend to not “get involved”.  We may see families struggling, but do not feel it is our responsibility to respond.  Tragically, it is often not until after something terrible happens  that people come out and talk about what they have noticed.  Joe Tucci, CEO of the Australian Childhood Foundation, supports a proposal that in Victoria neighbours and family friends should be mandated to report any child safety concerns.  You can read his comments in this article from The Age.   

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