Governments must transition away from Residential Care

Content warning: This post contains information about child sexual and physical abuse

CREATE is deeply concerned by the story on ABC’s 7.30 last night about the sexual exploitation of children in residential care in Victoria.

7.30 revealed that in the last nine months, there have been 125 reports made to the commission of children and young people in Victoria about children in the residential care system being subjected to sexual assault and abuse.

It is distressing to hear about the large volume of reports to the Victorian Commission and this issue requires an urgent and collaborative response to ensure accountability for the perpetrators and prevent further abuse of children and young people.

CREATE supports the Victorian Commissioner for Children and Young People in her individual inquiry into the conditions and circumstances that led to a 12 year-old girl in state care, who had experienced physical and sexual abuse, being charged with murder.

CREATE calls on all Australian Governments to urgently transition away from residential care as this is a model of care that is not safe and doesn’t meet the developmental and relational needs of children. It is a model that risks perpetuating trauma and harm for children in state care. 

About CREATE 

CREATE Foundation is the national consumer body representing the voices of children and young people with an out-of-home care experience (including kinship care, foster care and residential care). CREATE develops policy and research to report on and advocate for a better care system. 

Key evidence about residential care in Australia

  • Nationally, residential care comprises 7.6% of the care population. Large variations exist across Australia in its use, (e.g., from 3.6% in NSW to around 15% in QLD and SA). Costs for these services range from 8X (SA) to 18X (WA) the expenditure on home-based care (AIHW, 2022; Productivity Commission, 2022).
  • CREATE’s national survey of out-of-home care (McDowall, 2018) found that children and young people in residential care experienced more instability than those in home-based care and only 69% felt safe and secure in their residential placement compared with 93% in foster or kinship care.
  • McDowall (2020) reported that young people who have experienced residential care in Australia are less likely, compared with those in home-based placements, to complete year 12 education (41% vs. 67%), and were more likely to be involved with youth justice (56% vs. 25%). Care-criminalisation in residential placements must be avoided (McFarlane, 2016).

References  

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare [AIHW]. (2022). Young people under youth justice supervision and their interaction with the child protection system 2020–21. No. CSI 29. AIHW. https://www.aihw.gov.au/getmedia/e4f440c3-abb0-4547-a12b-081a5a77908b/aihw-csi29-Young-people-under-youth-justice-supervision2020-21.pdf.aspx?inline=true

Productivity Commission. (2022). Report on Government Services. https://www.pc.gov.au/research/ongoing/report-on-government-services.

McDowall, J. J. (2018). Out-of-home care in Australia: Children and young people’s views after five years of National Standards. CREATE Foundation.

McDowall, J. J. (2020). Transitioning to adulthood from out-of-home care: Independence or interdependence? CREATE Foundation.

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