Anglicare Victoria CEO Ray Clearly discusses Child Protection issues

November 30, 2009 at 4:00 pm | Posted in Child Protection | 2 Comments

Victoria’s major players in Child Protection policy and community services met for a discussion in the lead up to the release of the Ombudsman’s report into Child Protection last week. Anglicare Victoria’s CEO, Ray Cleary, was among the leaders and experts at the table for a discussion facilitated by The Age.

On the agenda were issues of the child protection system, worker fatigue in the sector, community engagement, funding and resources, children’s courts and mandatory reporting.

Here’s some of what Anglicare Victoria’s Ray Cleary had to say.

“I don’t think we’re asking the right questions. And the right questions, to me, are what’s happening to families in our society today, in Australia, which is seeing increasing numbers of children coming to notification for child protection and family support, and what’s happening to our children in that regard? What are our schools having to deal with? Why are we seeing so many families where relationships are so fragile? It seems to me they’re the bigger questions we ought to be asking because that stands behind why I think we’re seeing the notifications in child protection, the increase in placements in our home care…”

“But let’s put the elephant on the table: that’s about resources, and that’s about the Victorian community or the Australian community being willing to invest in children and families and not invest in other things which in fact work against that; so education, housing, health services, kindergartens, child care centres, all those sorts of things, are the way that we can only address that question.”

You can read a transcript of the discussion from The Age website, or read the related news article. You can also follow news and opinion from Anglicare Victoria’s Social Justice and Foster Care blogs. 

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Response to Calls for Mandatory Reporting

July 22, 2009 at 5:01 pm | Posted in Around the Nation, Child Protection | Leave a comment

Anglicare Victoria has responded to calls for an expansion to mandatory reporting laws for child abuse saying that child protection systems alone cannot ensure safety.

In a media release Anglicare Victoria CEO Ray Cleary said that the real focus should be on better training for child protection staff and improving outcomes for vulnerable children in out-of-home care.

 “Receiving a notification of abuse or neglect is just one step in a long process to protect children,” Dr Cleary said.

Anglicare Victoria pointed to a shortage of foster carers as a key concern and encouraged the wider community to play a part in ensuring children are protected within our families.

 Dr Cleary said calls for a Judicial Inquiry into Victoria’s child protection system were premature and could divert crucial funding.

Anglicare Victoria also writes a Foster Care Blog available at their website

Agencies welcome Vic Budget

May 7, 2009 at 12:23 pm | Posted in About Fostering, Child Protection, Supports for Carers | Leave a comment
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In media releases both Anglicare Victoria and the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare have welcomed the investment of $135 million in Out of Home Care over the next four years.

The budget includes 100 extra placements for one-to-0ne care for children with who have experienced extreme trauma and abuse and who need expert care. It also includes early intervention for children at risk and training and support for relatives called on to care for their grandchild, niece or nephew.

100 Professional Carers for Victoria’s most vulnerable

May 4, 2009 at 10:24 am | Posted in Around the Nation, Articles, Child Protection, Media, Resources | 1 Comment

The Age has reported expectations that next week’s state budget could include a “professional care model” to fund one-to-one care for Victoria’s most vulnerable children.

These professional carers will be expected to have qualifications in social work, psychology or related fields. 100 placements will be targeted at children who have experienced extreme trauma and who have significant challenging behaviours. These placements are expected to be rolled out over the next four years.

Of course, with 5800 children living in Out Of Home Care across Victoria, the move towards professional carers is not intended to replace volunteer foster carers who will remain the dominant cohort of carers in the sector.

Other child protection funding areas of the budget could include:

  • Early intervention programs for vulnerable families, such as providing them with better access to social workers, to prevent children from being removed from home.
  • Extra support and training for relatives caring for children removed from their homes.
  • Volunteer mentors for children in residential care and extra resources for emergency responses

The federal government has also recently announced child protection funding with the formation of a Child Abuse Task Force. Made up of Australian Health and Welfare agencies, the task force is a response to a report titled “Inverting the Pyramid” which argues that a uniform approach to child protection in Australia needs to be developed.

Additionally, COAG has agreed to other areas of spending including greater access to information about families at risk across all the states and territories, and an increased leaving care allowance for young people making the transition from foster care to independent living.

Privacy and Media Restrictions

April 22, 2009 at 3:31 pm | Posted in Around the Nation, Child Protection, Links, Media | Leave a comment

Radio National’s Law Report yesterday focused on the laws which prohibit the identification of children in foster care and their carers (if this will identify the child) as well as a myriad of other issues.

The program raised a number of important areas for public discussion however I must stress that this program was particularly NSW focused and whether or not these translate to other states is not to be assumed.

In addition, the claim by journalist Caroline Overington that child protection can bend the rules of privacy for positive publications about foster care is just not the case, at least not in Victoria. Children will never be photographed or identified in the media for any purpose unless under very strict conditions.

Including parents in the picture

April 14, 2009 at 9:58 am | Posted in Around the Nation, Child Protection, Issues for Fostering, Media, Stories | Leave a comment

The Law Report on Radio National this morning reported on a couple of very disturbing cases of Child Protection issues in Queensland. The families and sources the Law Report spoke to told of enormously difficult (largely impossible) processes for parents and families who wished to challenge court orders in order to regain custody of their children. They reported deliberate barriers being put up, parents being given little or no information and having their calls and requests for meetings go unanswered.

Of course there was not enough information given on this program to be able to comment on these specific cases; I can only assume that there is a lot more to the story, but hearing these reminds me of the importance of understanding and including parents wherever safe and possible. Including parents as part of the “Care Team” meetings, having good relationships between carers, staff and parents and maintaining communication books are all ways to include parents in the decisions made about the child and to nurture children’s bonds with their families.

Foster care is concerned with belonging rather than ownership, and the aim of foster care is to work towards reunification as a primary goal, or in come cases, towards another long term goal (such as adoption or permanent care).

NSW responds to the Wood Inquiry

March 4, 2009 at 3:30 pm | Posted in Around the Nation, Child Protection, Links | Leave a comment

NSW has responded to the lengthy Wood Inquiry published last year with this message on their website.

 The NSW Government has released its response to the recommendations made by the Special Commission of Inquiry into Child Protection Services in NSW headed by Justice James Wood.

Keep them safe: a shared approach to child wellbeing sets out the Government’s action plan over the next five years to improve the safety and wellbeing of children and young people in NSW. 

Its goal is that all children in NSW are healthy, happy and safe, and grow up belonging in families and communities where they have opportunities to reach their full potential.

Justice Wood’s report – handed down on 24 November 2008 – contained 111 recommendations aimed at strengthening government and community responsibility for child protection.

Keep them safe lays the foundations for better partnerships between government agencies and non-government organisations.

It addresses the underlying factors that affect abuse and neglect and will help families earlier so that they do not escalate into the statutory child protection system.

The action plan and new legislation has been developed in close consultation with all the agencies that work with vulnerable children and young people, including several advisory groups established to guide the development and implementation of the plan.

This paper also featured on ABC Life Matters with an interview with Linda Burney, NSW Minister for Community Services.

February 2, 2009 at 10:51 am | Posted in Articles, Child Protection, Media | Leave a comment
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The Herald Sun has run an article today which puts forward some arguments for taking obese children in care. Obesity experts and child psychologists are claiming that allowing young children to become obese entails child abuse.

Obviously if children started to be removed because of weight or other health issues this would mean some major changes for the child protection system. You can read the full article here.

Vic Legislation affects baby stats

January 20, 2009 at 3:56 pm | Posted in Child Protection, Media, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Recent state government statistics published by The Age today appear to confirm the anecdotal experience of many agencies across the state: that early intervention legislation has impacted the number of Victorian babies in foster care.

The legeslation means that families who are at risk can be monitored before a child is born with assessments and decisions made much earlier than before…

John McDonald told The Age:

 “Rather than at the crisis point (when) everyone is running around assessing what to do with this newborn baby and mother, it brings a much more planned, methodical and informed approach to the wellbeing of the baby and also mother,” Mr McDonald said. 

The impact for some Victorian foster care agencies has been a increased need for baby carers, as Anglicare Victoria told The Herald Sun last year.

But there is strong consensus from within Victoria and from interstate reports that Victoria that the legislation facilitating early intervention is working well and should be the path for reform in other states Child Protection systems.  

This editorial is also an interesting perspective on the necessity of a “nanny state” when it comes to child protection.

Call to increase prevention

December 11, 2008 at 8:57 am | Posted in Articles, Child Protection, Media | Leave a comment
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The latest report from the Australian Institute of Family Studies has prompted calls for a stronger focus on preventing children and young people from entering care. You can read an article on the subject from the Herald Sun here .

While increasing support services may indeed help, this article runs the risk of the being misinterpreted by the public as saying that it is better for children not to enter care under any circumstances, which is of course not the case.

You can visit the Australian Institute of Family Studies website here .

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