The best way to keep children safe may not be to build a system around dysfunctional abusive parents who will stay damaged and damage their children. Early, speedy and permanent removal can bring better outcomes than re-cycling a child back into abusive dysfunction. Future governments may have to apologize for not removing at risk children
The Children’s Protection Act reads well. Like many regulatory provisions it requires adequate resources, complete integrity and competence of the compliance officers – case workers.
Underlying the issues is the apparent desire to maintain virtually absolute power by the State Department, usually wielded by a case worker or manager who forms the view that a child is, or is not, at risk.
I suggest that there is merit in “circuit breaking” the absolute power of the case worker/department.
The need to “circuit break” absolute power of case workers.
When the case worker determines no action is needed. “The child is not at risk.” I refer to The Coroners reported responses in the recent case “How can it be in the report when it is wrong.”
The facts seem too frequently, even in the face of multiple risk reports, to fit the report closure recommendation. In the case of inaction quite possibly the workers, perhaps unwittingly, fit the case load activations to the budget and resources
Greater intervention may be needed than currently occurs to prevent future generations from lifelong dependency. Drug addled parenting is not a legitimate lifestyle choice. It is wrong and dangerous, abusive and neglectful. There is an inadequate or lack of response to known children. Keeping families united may not be better than the pain of separation.
Abused neglected and dead children is worse. Multiple opportunities to intervene are being missed.
Recent Coroners comments support the view that child welfare reports can be just plain wrong.
The best way to keep children safe may not be to build a system around dysfunctional abusive parents who will stay damaged and damage their children. Early, speedy and permanent removal can bring better outcomes than re-cycling a child back into abusive dysfunction.
Future governments may have to apologize for not removing at risk children
AN OPTION TO CIRCUIT BREAK Departmental failure.
The Youth Court Act provides a model for Youth Justice Co-ordinators and Family Conferences.
I don’t suggest the model be adopted, but rather used as a potential to extract an idea.
I would call it a “Care & Urgent Safety Conference”.
A system of Community Care Co-ordinators could be set up around the State and suburbs. Authorised by the Youth Court Judge.
The Co-ordinators should have no connection whatsoever and certainly not be people who are internal or external providers to the Department. They simply need to be of good character, and , need to be parents so that they understand that raising children is not always about perfect family life.
The Co-ordinators function would be to bring together a group of three. (themselves and two others) One should be a local police officer. This brings the power to act urgently under the Children’s Protection Act outside of Departmental processes. One should, or could, be a local school teacher, or some one used to dealing with children.
The idea is that any person who felt that the Department was not acting to take care on their report or another’s report could contact the co-ordinator. The Coordinator would bring together the Conference and the concerned party could present themselves and their story.
With such a group of independent “lay” people with community, parenting, and child skills taking a look at a complaint of someone expressing concerns at the lack of action of the Department there is a real chance that ordinary human intuition of whether there is a “real risk” can properly be assessed.
There are a number of potential options for them. They could report to the Court, by telephone in an emergency, they could ask the department for an urgent immediate home visit on the child. The Police officer could exercise urgency powers under the Act.
The mere existence of such a “lay person” community conference group could well be a motivator for the Department to double think a decision not to act.
When the State Department persistently refuses to respond to the requests of experienced Family Court Judges’ to become a party in the interests of the safety of a child The Minister is saying that while she has the power to care for the child she does not have the duty to so act.. That seems to be an error in approach.
Experienced in general practice including family law matters and Youth Court (care) Matters, both for the Department and for other parties.