Sunday, May 27, 2007

Child protection neglect exposed

Caz of Avatar Briefs, in comments below, raised the matter of the following truly ugly set of numbers:

A review of deaths among children known to Victorian child protection authorities has found that almost half had their cases closed prematurely.

The report by the Victorian Child Death Review Committee, which examined 13 deaths between 2004-06, found that six had their cases closed early.

It also found that 18 children known to Child Protection died last year, up from 11 the previous year.

Problems with case closures, the report states, were most common in situations involving chronic neglect where families were subject to multiple notifications.

As I noted to Caz, this is really an abysmal outcome in such a rich society as ours. And as troubling as that should be, it also seems to indicate a trend of deteriorating standards of child protection in Victoria.

I haven’t yet seen anything by way of response from the Victorian Government. Dare one hope that Human Services Minister Bronwyn Pike will offer a useful policy response to address this state of affairs?

UPDATE 28 MayReported today:

In the wake of a report that revealed 18 children known to authorities died in Victoria last year, Australian Childhood Foundation chief executive Joe Tucci said there was an urgent need for Australia to follow the example of Britain and establish a national register of child deaths.

Dr Tucci said protocols within the Department of Human Services’ Child Protection unit dealing with police notification in cases of suspected child abuse were not adequate.

The protocols are designed to ensure a co-ordinated response by Child Protection and police during protective and criminal investigations of child abuse.

However, Dr Tucci said the favouring of minimal intervention practice by the DHS meant many examples of violence and abuse against children never came to the attention of police.

“What the system keeps doing is turning child abuse into more of a welfare issue, rather than recognising it as a crime and using the force of the law to hold parents accountable to the law,” he said.

“I don’t think the protocol is always followed and I think there is a lot of discretion left up to child protection workers in relation to how serious a case has to be before they make a report to the police.” ...


Blogger Caz said...

Ah yes, a Child Death Register, so that we have an accurate body count.

Gawd, it's too hideous to dwell upon for long.

Mind you, if we look at the child abuse within Aboriginal communities - all I want to do is scream, rather helplessly.

I wouldn't be a child welfare worker for quids. I often wonder how they cope, how they get through each day, and, sometimes, how some of them manage to sleep at night.

1/6/07 8:13 PM  
Blogger Jacob A. Stam said...

It IS hideous. And horrifying that child protection seems so under-resourced. Those who survive abuse will be 'damaged' people, as you've said on the other thread.

And not only is that a full-on godawful tragedy - it's also (I'm reduced to saying) expensive. Commonsense might dictate some expenditure to minimise the damage.

2/6/07 4:05 PM  

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