What resi care review could mean for providers | #childsafety | #kids | #chldern | #parents | #schoolsafey

Private firms contracted to provide lucrative residential care for kids removed from abusive homes are expected to play a key role in a shake-up of the highly controversial out-of-care home system.

Indigenous leader Warren Mundine says Australia must take a “common sense approach” when it comes to Aboriginal children in the foster care system as protection should be a priority. “It’s quite clear the child’s interest comes first,” Mr Mundine told Sky News host Andrew Bolt. “Their safety, their education, their health, and everything comes first. “When you take them out of a dangerous situation, then you gotta put them back in that dangerous situation … where’s the common sense?”

On Monday Child Safety Minister Craig Crawford announced a review into the resi care system which will be led by Queensland Family and Child Commissioner Luke Twyford.

With 140 young people living in 73 homes, run by 11 different service providers in Cairns, the region is expected to feature strongly in an internal review of an industry that costs the Queensland taxpayer up to one billion dollars per annum.

Queensland Minister for Child Safety Craig Crawford has ordered a review into the residential care system. Picture: Dan Peled / NCA NewsWire

Ongoing claims of ice abuse, assault of workers, teen prostitution, horrific child-on-child sexual abuse, chroming and car theft have been made against the resi care sector whose processes are often shielded from public accountability by virtue of strict privacy regulations.

The review will bring together care providers and experts through a ministerial roundtable set to convene in September alongside a regional engagement and consultation process.

“There are always opportunities to do things better and I want to tap into the collective knowledge and expertise of our child protection sector,” Minister Crawford said.

A smashed IFYS vehicle in the driveway of a Creedy St, Wescourt residential care house. Picture: Supplied

“We all want change and with the collaboration of everyone around the table including, crucially, our service providers, this review will be a great step towards a better future for residential care in Queensland.”

The amount of children in care has doubled over the past five years, with each child costing the state (on average) $420,000 a year.

Across the state 1700 children in residential care are often left to live in squalor, are not made to attend school, and given free rein to commit crime, according to whistleblowers.

Resi care resident Bradley Smith, 14, was killed after an alleged stolen car slammed into a tree on Pease St, Manoora on February 14, 2022. Picture: Facebook

Add in underqualified staff in charge of high needs children, multiple deaths under the watch of Child Safety, including Cairns resi care kid Bradley Smith who was in residential care at the time of his death in February 2022, and children being housed in hotel rooms, the situation amounts to a sector in crisis.

Child Commissioner Twyford said the review, rather than a report recommending changes that took months to write the resi care probe, would lead to “immediate action”.

Facing never-before seen levels of child removals and increased demand for out-of-care home support Mr Twyford said a key question to be answered by the review was why more teens are entering the system.

Queensland Family and Child Commissioner Luke Twyford. Picture: Sandhya Ram

“It is unusual for there to be a high proportion of teenagers entering care,” he told the ABC.

“So there’s certainly something going on in our community where our children are not being kept safe or cared for by their parents and where the government is needing to take action, we need to address that.”

Department of Children director general Deidre Mulkerin said input from private and church-based providers of out-of-care accommodation was key to improving outcomes for state wards in resi care.

“Our non-government organisations are our vital partners in providing residential care services, no review of residential care is complete without them,” she said.

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