Commission for Children and Young People - Sexual abuse and sexual exploitation in residential care

Written on the 16 September 2015

19 August 2015


Statements on reports and papers 


GEORGIE CROZIER (LIB - Southern Metropolitan)


I am very pleased to speak on the report tabled in the Parliament this morning entitled " as a good parent would ", which is the report of the Commission for Children and Young People's inquiry into the adequacy of the provision of residential care services to Victorian children and young people who have been subject to sexual abuse or sexual exploitation whilst residing in residential care. The Commission for Children and Young People's principal commissioner, Bernie Geary, undertook this own-motion inquiry.

I place on the record the work of Mr Geary in producing this very thorough report. He is someone who understands this sector extremely well, having worked with our most vulnerable children for something in the vicinity of 45 years. Like many reports that have looked into our child protection system in the past, this one and some of its findings make for disturbing and upsetting reading. I note that Mr Geary has made a number of findings and recommendations in relation to this inquiry.

When the former government came into office two damning Ombudsman's reports showed a system in crisis. At that time the then Minister for Community Services, Ms Wooldridge, enabled the Cummins inquiry to take place. That was the state's largest and most far-reaching inquiry into the child protection system, and it made a number of recommendations.

In addition to that, the Commission for Children and Young People was established. I place on the record that the former minister enabled the commission to undertake this independent inquiry. The commission was set up precisely to look at the issues at hand, and this report highlights them in graphic detail. The commission was established to look into the system, to report back to government on the system, to provide recommendations and to review the system as a whole.

In looking at this report and I have not had time to read the entire report I see that a number of recommendations have been made through the findings. I understand the government has undertaken to accept all these recommendations in principle, but I hope the government will build on not only the recommendations of this report but also the reforms of the former government, because the former government did undertake significant reform. I have alluded to some of the findings of the Cummins inquiry and the many reforms it recommended, and the former government invested over $1 billion in Victoria's most vulnerable families and children. A broad suite of initiatives were undertaken, including in the out-of-home care system.

I know there are findings in this report that will disturb many people who are committed to working in this sector and who provide great support within it. Nevertheless it is true to say that there have been some failings, and these need to be addressed.

As I have said, I will seek to monitor what is going on.

We need to understand how many of these very severe, critical reports are being highlighted to the minister, and we need to see how government will ensure that there is a whole-of-government approach. Certainly the government needs to address those concerns in critical reports about getting more children out of out-of-home care and placing them back in their homes where supports can be provided. I will be watching this government very closely in relation to those issues. Again, I commend the Commission for Children and Young People and Mr Bernie Geary for their work on this very important issue.

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