Report of the Protecting Victoria’s Vulnerable Children Inquiry – DHS

The Protecting Victoria’s Vulnerable Children Inquiry was tasked with investigating systemic problems in Victoria’s child protection system and making recommendations to strengthen and improve the protection and support of vulnerable young Victorians.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY – Extract

The vast majority of Victoria’s children and young people live in families where they are loved, cared for and encouraged by their families. These children will be supported by their families through the highs and lows of childhood and adolescence and will grow up with the personal resources and capabilities to live independent, well-adjusted and productive lives.

However, a significant number of Victoria’s children and young people are not as fortunate. Every week, nearly 60 children and young people from across Victoria are removed from their parents by the State and placed in the care of another person or organisation because there are sound reasons to believe they are at risk of significant harm.

During 2010-11, about 3,000 children and young people were placed in accommodation away from their family home. While many will return home quickly, on average, these children stay in the care of the State for about 18 months and some will move between three or more separate placements in a single year. Over the past decade, the number of Victorian children and young people in out-of-home care has increased by 44 per cent – an annual growth of around 4 per cent a year – bringing the total number of children and young people in care to 5,700 at June 2011. Some children are never able to return to their parents’ care.

People across Victoria felt so concerned about the welfare of children that they made about 55,000 reports to the Victorian Department of Human Services in 2010–11. Of these 55,000 reports, nearly 14,000 were considered sufficiently serious by the Department of Human Services that they were formally investigated. These investigations found that for 7,600 of these cases, the concerns about the safety or welfare of these children were well founded. If current rates continue, one in four children born in Victoria in 2011 will be reported to the Department of Human Services by their 18th birthday.

Of great concern is that Aboriginal children and young people are significantly over-represented in Victoria’s system for protecting children. While Aboriginal children and young people make up 1.2 per cent of the Victorian population, they constitute around 16 per cent of children and young people on care and protection orders and are nine times more likely to be in State care than others in the general population.

SOURCE: , “Report of the Protecting Victoria’s Vulnerable Children Inquiry” .  (Final report to the Minister for Community Services tabled in Parliament on 28 February 2012.) ?Child Protection Inquiry website viewed 2 March 2012

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