Update on the Queensland Residential Care Review
CREATE participated in the Ministerial Roundtable to inform the Review of the Queensland Residential Care System on 28 September in Brisbane. The Roundtable was hosted by the Hon Craig Crawford MP, Minister for Child Protection and Principal Commissioner, Luke Twyford.
Four CREATE young consultants attended the Roundtable to share their experiences and insights and they spoke to policy makers and sector representatives about the changes that must happen as part of this review, including better placement matching, improved safety and complaints processes, and supporting children and young people to have more of a voice in decisions that affect their lives, including around contact with their family and friends.
CREATE also held a regional Youth Advisory Group, where young people with residential care shared rich insights into their experiences and perspectives, which will be included in CREATE’s submission (to be published shortly).
The Queensland Family and Child Commission is continuing the oversight of the Review into the Residential Care system by consulting with providers and staff. In August and September, QFCC has published monthly reports summarizing the key messages and suggestions for reform gathered so far.
Tasmania’s Commission of Inquiry Final Report Tabled
CREATE welcomes the final report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Tasmanian Government’s Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Institutional Settings. We acknowledge and thank all the people who have shared their stories with the Commission to inform the systemic changes needed to ensure the safety of all Tasmanian children and young people.
We strongly support the 191 recommendations made by the Commission, especially those focused on improving the safety and elevating the voices of children and young people in out of home care in Tasmania. We support stronger oversight systems, including increased Commissioner powers, a Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People, an independent Child Advocate and a Community Visitor scheme. We also strongly support full implementation of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle, as well as resourcing of Aboriginal-led service responses to respond to the needs of Aboriginal children, families and communities.
We look forward to seeing progress made towards fully embedding therapeutic and trauma informed practices within the out of home care system to address the needs of children and young people. We also applaud the Commission for continuing to highlight the need for the Tasmanian Government to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 14 years without exceptions and for this to be supported by a range of community-based programs and services.
Read the full report here: The Report (commissionofinquiry.tas.gov.au)
Family Is Culture Community Report Card – September 2023 released
AbSec and the Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT) Limited released their Community Report Card evaluating the NSW Government’s progress towards addressing critical gaps in the NSW child protection system. CREATE welcomes the release of this Report Card and supports ongoing calls to deliver on and implement the 126 recommendations of the 2019 Family is Culture Report, especially immediate action to establish an Independent Commission and appoint an Aboriginal Child and Family Commissioner.
CREATE also welcomed the formation of a Minister’s Aboriginal Partnership Group following on from the August 2023 forum in New South Wales to help reshape outcomes for Aboriginal children and families.
Read the full report here: 200923:FIC Report Card (September 2023) (absec.org.au)
The Office of the Advocate for Children and Young People (ACYP) in NSW is conducting a Special Inquiry
ACYP have established a Special Inquiry into children and young people in Alternative Care Arrangements (ACAs). This includes the use of hotels, motels and other settings for placements. Concerningly there are approximately 120 children and young people in alternative care arrangements in NSW and this arrangement could be for between 3 and 470 days, with the average being 118 days (Silmalis, 2023). CREATE welcomes the establishment of the Special Inquiry especially ACYP’s focus on understanding the experience of children and young people in their own words.
Source: Silmalis, L. (2023). Inquiry wants to hear from at-risk kids government puts up in hotels and caravan parks. The Daily Telegraph. Special inquiry to hear from at-risk kids housed in hotels | Daily Telegraph
Yoorrook for Justice: Report into Victoria’s Child Protection and Criminal Justice Systems released
CREATE welcomes the release of the Report into Victoria’s Child Protection and Criminal Justice Systems by the Yoorrook Justice Commission on Monday 4 September. The Yoorrook Justice Commission’s 46 recommendations for change span across a range of reform areas including:
- transferring decision-making power, authority and control over the child protection and criminal justice system as it related to First Nations Peoples in the spirit of genuine self-determination,
- calling on the Victorian Government to establish and adequately resource a new independent police oversight authority, headed by a statutory officer who has not been a police officer, and
- urgently introducing legislation to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility in Victoria to 14 years without exceptions and to prohibiting the detention of children under 16 years.
CREATE strongly supports these recommendations and urges the Victorian Government to implement these reforms. This is an important opportunity to redress the harms that have occurred for Aboriginal children, young people and families, to resource Aboriginal-led and designed service responses and to interrupt the over-representation of Aboriginal children in contact with child protection and care systems.
Read the full report here: Yoorrook For Justice
Concerning data released shows that the over-criminalisation of children in residential care remains at unacceptably high levels in Victoria
New data from Victoria Legal Aid (2023) shows that criminal charges are laid against at least two out of every five of their clients placed in residential care within 12 months of being moved there. Further in the 1 August 2019 to 1 August 2022 period, 42% of their child clients in residential care accrued criminal charges within one year of placement, with criminal damage (property) the most common charge at 25.2 % (Victoria Legal Service, 2023).
CREATE is deeply concerned by these statistics and calls on the Victorian Government raise the age of criminal responsibility to 14 as soon as possible and with no exceptions, rather than taking a staggered process. We also hope to see the Framework to Reduce Criminalisation of Young People in Residential Care (signed in 2020) fully embedded into practice specifically guiding principles around only calling police when there is an immediate safety risk.
Source: Victoria Legal Aid. (2023). Concern over continued over-criminalisation of children in state care. Website. Concern over continued over-criminalisation of children in state care | Victoria Legal Aid
Breaking Cycles Action Plan Released in Queensland
The Queensland Government with QATSICPP released the Breaking Cycle 2023-2025 action plan, which outlines the strategic plan to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people and reduce the over-representation in the child-protection system. This is part of the 20-years strategy known as ‘Our Way’. CREATE welcomes the progress towards self-determination for First Nation communities and more efforts dedicated to early intervention and support for First Nation families.
Parent voice report released in Queensland
The Queensland Family and Child Commission (QFCC) and Micah Projects’ Family Inclusion Network Southeast Queensland have released the Parent Voice. This was based on a survey with parents of children and young people involved with Child Safety, and highlighted areas that need improvement to help families feel safe and respected. In particular, the majority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents did not feel that their culture, background and practices were respected, understood and considered in decisions made about their family (61%), nor were they able to maintain their connections to language, family, community, Country and culture (63%).
Read the full report here.
CREATE’s media statement following Northern Territory distressing footage
CREATE released a media statement following the distressing footage published by The Australian showing a child being forcibly removed from a home in the Northern Territory by police officers. CREATE’s CEO Jacqui Reed stated:
“We feel for the child and family involved. At a system’s level there should have been alternative options available to avoid this outcome for the child. Police and child protection agencies must work with children in a way that does not involve force or cause significant distress’.
Update on CREATE’s consultations
CREATE’s annual consultations are underway in the following states:
- New South Wales (Health and Wellbeing – for ages 14-17)
- Victoria (Health and Wellbeing for ages 14-17)
- Australian Capital Territory (Health and Wellbeing for ages 14-17)
- Northern Territory (Health and Wellbeing for ages 14-17)
If you are a young person with a care experience in one of these states and would like to participate in one of our consultations, please get in touch with your state team: https://create.org.au/state-teams/
If you would like to know more about CREATE’s consultations please check out our website: https://create.org.au/consultations/
The Western Australia Government is developing a Youth Action Plan, and you can still submit your thoughts. Share your idea about what initiatives could be beneficial for youth in WA: https://www.wa.gov.au/organisation/department-of-communities/new-action-plan-young-people-western-australia
The My Life in Care Survey is still open. If you are living in out-of-home care in Queensland and are between 10 and 18, complete the survey online: https://www.dcssds.qld.gov.au/campaign/my-life-in-care-survey
The Commonwealth is developing a National Housing and Homelessness Plan. Make a submission or attend an event to contribute your views: https://engage.dss.gov.au/developing-the-national-housing-and-homelessness-plan/