Commission for Children and Young People: report 2015-16

Written on the 9 November 2016

26 October 2016


Statements on reports and papers 

GEORGIE CROZIER (LIB - Southern Metropolitan)


I am pleased to speak to the Commission for Children and Young People annual report 201516, which was tabled just recently.

I do so because I want to make some comments in relation to some of the findings in the report but also to acknowledge the work of the commissioners. I know that the commissioner for Aboriginal children and young people, Andrew Jackomos, has also released his very significant report today, which goes to some significant findings in relation to the Aboriginal/Indigenous communities that also indicate an over-representation of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care and the youth justice system. I will say a bit more about the report at a later date. I do want to acknowledge the work he has done in his role as commissioner for Aboriginal children and young people and the work of Taskforce 1000, which was commenced under the previous government.

Turning to this report in relation to some of its findings, I note in the chapter headed 'Providing oversight and advocacy for vulnerable children' it refers to the work of the former commissioner, Bernie Geary. When he was commissioner for children and young people he conducted an inquiry and produced the report, " as a good parent would ". This inquiry was a self-referencing inquiry. It was an independent one that he undertook under the previous coalition government, and the former minister enabled him to have that independence. There were some serious findings in that report, which is good; we need to understand what is going on in the out-of-home care system and particularly in relation to sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. There were some very alarming figures in the report. When his report was finalised in 2015 I note that the minister said, and I quote from a media release of August 2015:

The report, which looked at critical incident reports from March 2013 to March 2014, has serious and concerning findings which highlight a system that needs reform from the ground up.

That seems to be needing more input, because we have findings in this report that the incidence of sexual exploitation is very high. In the chapter I referred to the report states:

However, reports relating to incidents of sexual exploitation of children and young people living in residential care continue to rise, indicating the need for urgent action on all of the inquiry's recommendations.

It was referring to the previous report I referred to.

The government has been in power for almost two years, and we know from this commission's report that the findings are pretty damning. From 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016 the commission received 2833 reports of category 1 client incidents. This was an increase of 28 per cent compared to the previous financial year. If you look at some of those category 1 incidents, you see they relate to behaviour, sexual exploitation, with the number increasing to 412; behaviour, sexual, increasing to 269; sexual assault, indecent, increasing to 200; and sexual assault, rape, increasing to 138. This also happens with a lot of other figures in relation to issues concerning absent and missing persons, behavioural concerns, physical assaults, death, property damage, sexual assault, substance abuse, suicide and self-harm. So there are many concerns.

This area is very complex, as we all know. It is difficult, and there are many reasons for some of these behavioural issues occurring, but what I am concerned about is the increase in the number of incidents of sexual exploitation and sexual assault that are occurring under the current minister's watch, especially when she indicated that she was going to take some action after the Bernie Geary report to address this. Clearly that is not happening. Clearly this is a system under immense stress. I will have more to say on this report in coming weeks.

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