An inquiry into Victoria’s child protection system has found significant issues, with the Labor Government failing to provide support for both children and staff within the system.
The inquiry, led by the Commission for Children and Young People, delved into the educational experiences of children and young people in out-of-home care and found “disparities in educational outcomes that are as stark as they are shameful”.
The report also found “across every measure, children in care are worse off” and the poor educational outcomes for children in care are related to the “persistent strain on the child protection system and its crisis-driven approach”.
Nationals Member for Euroa Annabelle Cleeland said the results were disheartening, with constituents regularly bringing concerns relating to child protection to her office.
“Sadly, my office is inundated with calls and emails about failings within our child protection system,” Ms Cleeland said.
“Education offers a pathway for these children to lead a safe and secure life and combat disadvantages they have been dealt with.
“However, under Labor our most vulnerable children are being denied their right to a strong education due to a lack of funding, support, and care.
“There are too many children being left behind in this system, and I call on the Allan Labor Government to ensure our most vulnerable members of society are given love, support and a fair go.”
In 2019, the Commission exposed the consequences of Labor’s under-resourced child protection system and called for more investment in prevention and early intervention to keep families together.
Yet this inquiry showed the warnings were largely ignored with the report finding:
- a 13 per cent increase in the number of children and young people in care as of December 2022.
- an over-representation of Aboriginal children and young people in the care system remains, with a 21 per cent increase.
- an 83 per cent rise in the number of children aged nine to 11 in residential care.
- a 33 per cent increase in children aged six to eight in residential care.
- a 10 per cent decline in foster care placements.
- only 25 per cent of students in care reach Year 12.
Furthermore, child protection worker turnover rates have worsened while the proportion of children and young people without an allocated worker and case managed by Child Protection increased by 19 per cent.