Successive state governments failing our young people in care: SA-BEST
Successive state governments are failing South Australian children in care with many still slipping between the cracks, SA-BEST warned today.
SA-BEST MLC and Child Protection spokesperson, Connie Bonaros, said all South Australians should be shocked and alarmed at the latest report from the Guardian for Children and Young People, Shona Reid.
Tabled in State Parliament late last week, the report reveals SA has some of the worst results in the country when it comes to child protection indicators. This includes:
- South Australia had the second highest rate of children and young people in out-of-home care (OOHC) in the country;
- SA was one of only two jurisdictions in Australia where the number of children and young people in OOHC increased;
- Investment on combined family support and intensive family support services in South Australia remains below the national average;
- Expenditure on protective intervention services in SA remains the lowest in Australia, and even decreased in 2021-22;
- Nearly half of South Australia’s child protection expenditure was spent on residential care services - yet the annual cost per child living in residential care as at 30 June 2022 decreased in comparison to three years earlier, and;
- a staggering 118 children under the age of 10 years were living in residential care at 30 June 2022 - being 16.6% of the total residential care population.
“The report makes for very disturbing and sobering reading. Have we not learned anything from our past experiences and tragedies,” Connie said.
“These children deserve so much better. They don’t plan to be in care yet many are treated as second class citizens,” she said.
“More and more kids are falling through the cracks, and the ramifications of that can be experienced for the rest of their lives.
“As a state, as a Parliament, as community – we must do better.
“These kids are relying on it.”
Other disturbing statistics revealed in the report, titled Child Protection in South Australia from the Productivity Commission’s Report on Government Services 2023, include:
- the growing number of children and young people in care;
- the increasing reliance on residential care as a placement option;
- the disproportionate impacts of these matters on Aboriginal children and young people;
- one in six (16.1%) children in OOHC in South Australia lived in residential care as at 30 June 2022 - nearly double the national rate of 8.5%;
- the residential care population in South Australia grew at eight times the rate of the national OOHC population (8.6%, compared to 1.2%);
- one in 11 Aboriginal children and young people in SA were living in OOHC as at 30 June 2022, compared to one in 130 non-Aboriginal children and young people;
- the number of Aboriginal children and young people living in residential care in SA as at 30 June 2022 grew at five times the rate of non-Aboriginal children - 17.9% and 3.7% respectively - compared to the same time the previous year, and;
- continued low funding for early intervention and family supports, and the ways this interacts with family separation.
“This latest report from the Guardian for Children and Young People should be a wake up call to the State Government,” Connie said.
“The warning signs are there for all to see – the cracks in our child protection system are getting bigger and more children and young people are falling through them to the detriment of not only themselves, but their families and loved ones, and the broader community that is left to pick up the pieces,” she said.
“As a matter of urgency, I plan to meet with the Guardian for Children and Young People to get a clearer picture on what she believes are the key priorities to addressing these critical areas of child protection.”