The Commission for Children and Young People has welcomed a Victorian Ombudsman report into financial support to kinship carers.
“This report is critical to helping us understand the circumstances of more than 5,500 Victorian children who are living in kinship care arrangements,” Principal Commissioner Liana Buchanan said. “The Ombudsman’s important investigation has highlighted challenges faced by kinship carers and exposed some significant failures in the system that should be supporting them.”
The report’s recommendations call on the government to improve decision making processes so that kinship carers receive a level of support that is in keeping with the best interests of the children in their care.
The Ombudsman’s report was released as the Victorian Government announced reforms to the kinship care model. These reforms aim to improve how the system identifies and recruits kinship carers, strengthen cultural connections for Aboriginal children, and increase and improve support to carers.
“The package announced by the government is a welcome investment to better support carers and ultimately improve outcomes for children,” Ms Buchanan said.
In welcoming the report and the government’s recent announcement, the Commissioner cautioned that any actions resulting from the Ombudsman’s recommendations or other reforms should take into account the needs and experiences of children.
“Children and young people benefit when their carers are adequately assessed and supported, and in improving the kinship care model we must address children’s experiences and needs” Ms Buchanan said. “My office will undertake work in early 2018 to understand the experiences of children in this type of care to inform future improvements to kinship care.”
The Victorian Ombudsman’s report reiterates some of the findings the Commission made in two systemic inquiries it tabled in 2016 – In the child’s best interests and Always was, always will be Koori children.
These inquiries revealed widespread non-compliance in Victoria with laws designed to prevent Aboriginal children from being disconnected from their families, culture and communities.
“For Aboriginal children, a connection to family and culture is a lifeline. Kinship carers play an important role in ensuring these connections are maintained, and that’s why it’s important to ensure they get all the support they need,” Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People Andrew Jackomos said. “I am encouraged by the government’s commitment and ongoing work to ensure that Aboriginal communities have a greater say in deciding placements for our children.”
Luis Gonzalez – 8601 5293 | 0425 871 816