Following up previous accounts of the shortcomings of Australian child protection dealing with the systemic problems here and here and the particular situation in South Australia which was revealed in an inquiry last year.
Readers may recall that the central concern is the extreme unwillingness of child protection authorities to remove children from their natural parents to a safer place or to adoption even when they are suffering serious and persisting abuse in the family.
The bad news is from South Australia following the report last year. Given that the report only recommended more resources to do much the same things it is not surprising that The Fresh Start is just a new department and more people but no sign of a move in the direction of adoption.
1 November 2016. The new Department for Child Protection opens today signalling a fresh start for child protection in South Australia. The department was created in response to recommendations in the Child Protection Systems Royal Commission. “The life they deserve” that was presented to the state government in August this year.
While a lot of this work has been occurring behind the scenes over recent months to ensure staff, the agencies that support child protection and the whole community are involved in the process.
Work already underway across child protection includes the new Choose to Care campaign to encourage an increase in foster cares; strong relationship with non-government organisations and other key partners; innovative parenting programs; and as well as child well-being practitioners working with schools to continue to grow partnerships with the education sector.
And there is a Media Centre! “The Media and Digital unit, within the Media and Communications Directorate keeps the community engaged through the media with the latest news on initiatives, developments and events focusing on child protection.”
The message on adoption is that it will be expensive for prospective parents, time consuming, and there will not be many placements anyway.
The good news comes from New South Wales where it seems that the Sammut report has been read and digested with the result that there is a move in the US direction of increased adoption.
The overhaul aims to provide a loving, stable and permanent family for children who cannot live with their parents because they are at risk of harm.
Minister for Family and Community Services [FACS] Brad Hazzard said too many children were being moved through several foster homes until they reach adulthood.
The Minister for Family and Community Services, Brad Hazzard toured the US and was highly impressed by the adoption model which dramatically reduced the number of children in care.
“In New York City, Illinois and Tennessee, they’ve brought their numbers [of children in care] down from more than 50,000 to less than 10,000 … 8,000 in some cases,” he said.
“The clearest message that children in care have given me is they want forever families.”
The NSW Government expects the plan would make it easier to adopt, with the number of children currently in care in the state at about 20,000 , with the figure expected to double in the next ten years.
This looks like a win for the good guys, Jeremy Sammut and the Adopt Change organization. More from The Daily Telegraph.
Adopt Change chief executive Renee Carter said about 30,000 of the 43,000 kids in out-of-home care across Australia had been there for more than two years.
Figures show children aged less than one are the most likely to need out-of-home care. Some of these kids will live in about 10 foster homes before they turn 18.
Ms Carter’s organisation — founded by actor Deborra-lee Furness, who has two adopted children with her husband Hugh Jackman — is calling for a “significant increase” in the number of kids in stable homes.