Shadow Minister for Child Protection Nick Goiran is calling for the immediate appointment of a full-time Child Protection Minister following the Minister’s breathtaking lack of awareness displayed in today’s Estimates Hearings conducted by the Legislative Assembly.

Despite the Commissioner for Children and Young People’s damning report Independent Review of Department of Communities policies and practices in the placement of children with harmful sexual behaviours in residential care settings being released last week, the Minister would not say how many times reportable offenders had been housed with children in care.

“For three years I have been calling for victims of sexual abuse to be kept safe from their attackers whether at school or at home and these revelations that the departmental kept those housed with known perpetrators despite repeated pleas for help beggars belief,” Mr Goiran said.

“The time has long passed for the McGowan Government to start treating this matter as a priority. It is inconceivable that given just how serious this is that the Minister is incapable or unwilling to come clean to the Parliament and advise precisely how common this practice has been over the last 4 years.”

The Government has a responsibility to ensure that children are kept safe, and are protected from harm, and yet the Commissioner found that:

  • Children raised their concerns, and these were not responded to in a timely manner.
  • The information and knowledge management systems of the Department are not fit for
    purpose and impede decision making for children and young people and organisational
    accountability.
  • The Department does not have a cohesive or effective framework or policy, practices or
    services to understand and respond to children and young people with harmful sexual
    behaviours.
  • The Department does not consistently ensure that high quality and safe care by well trained
    and supported staff and carers is provided to children and young people in the care of the CEO
    in residential care.
  • The Department’s risk assessment and management strategies are not effective in
    consistently preventing, identifying and mitigating risks to children and young people in
    residential care.
  • The Department’s internal safeguards and review mechanisms do not contribute effectively to
    the safety of children and young people in residential care.

“To make matters worse the Minister was totally lost today when trying to answer an Opposition question about children without a care plan, to say nothing for the question about children in care whose whereabouts are unknown,” Mr Goiran said.

“Make no mistake, following the ill-conceived decision to amalgamate the former specialist Department of Child Protection into a generalist mega Department of Communities, we have victims of child sexual abuse being housed by the Department with known perpetrators, staggering numbers of children in care without care plans and we even have children in care whom the Department simply have no idea where they are.

“This is the problem with having a part-time Minister for Child Protection overseeing a Department that has a part-time focus on child protection.”