Institutional and Out of Care Outcomes - So the Question Is "Is Foster Care Really Child Protection or Child Abuse" ?

  • 42% of Australia’s homeless youth have a ‘protective care’ history 1
  • Half of all care leavers experience homelessness within the first 12 months of leaving ‘care’ 2
  • Once homeless, care leavers are unable to return to home for the same reasons which led to them being removed from or relinquished by their families in the first instance 3
  • Subsequent to entering the juvenile justice system, 90 % of ‘protective care’ clients will graduate to the adult criminal justice system 4
  • 65% of the Victorian female prisoner population have a ‘protective care’ history 5
  • 1 in 3 females will leave the ‘protective care’ system at age 16 pregnant or already with a child 6
  • 53 % of care leavers report being unlawfully physically assaulted by so called ‘carers’whist in ‘care’ 7
  • 29 % of care leavers report having been sexually abused by a staff member of the facility / placement they resided in 8
  • 16 of a sample of 30 young people involved in commercial sexual activity in inner city Melbourne and St Kilda had a ‘protective care’ history. All were drug addicted, and first commercially sexually violated whilst in so called ‘protective care’ 9
  • 22 of the sample were first commercially sexually violated prior to the legal age of consent to sexual activity without restriction to age of partners (n = 18 aged 14 yrs, n = 4 aged 12 yrs) 10
  • Children who are commercially sexually violated are not prostitutes. They are victims of sexual assault 11
  • 1 in 3 care leavers attempt suicide 12
  • Only 3.78 % of care leavers complete secondary school to year 12 or equivalent 13
  • Only 7.9 % of the care leaver population complete an undergraduate degree to university level 14
  • 56% of care leavers are reliant on income support payments 15
  • 17 % of care leavers experience ‘problems with drugs’ 16
  • 18 % of care leavers experience ‘problems with alcohol’ 17
  • Inter-generational substance abuse slightly moreprevalent
  • 19% of care leavers have children who experience ‘problems with alcohol’ 18
  • 20 % of care leavers have children who experience ‘drug problems’ 19
  • AOD figures likely to be substantially under reported due to bias in sampling. (Survey respondents were all members of a care leaver organisation. People with serious substance abuse issues less likely to engage with such a service than others)

Source : Cherie Marian
Redress Vic Advocate
Ph 0421 161 487
VAADA conference 2009

References :
1. Chamberlain, C. Johnson, G. & Theobald, J., Homelessness in Melbourne: Confronting the Challenge, Centre for Applied Social Research, RMIT University, February 2007.
2. Senate Community Affairs Reference Committee Inquiry, Committee Hansard, 4 February 2004, p.30 cited in Senator Andrew Murray and Dr Marilyn Rock, The Impact of Childhood Trauma Across the Lifespan: Historical Denial – Current Challenges, September, 2005.
3. Human Rights Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC), Our Homeless Children: Report of the National Inquiry Into Homeless Children, Australian Government Publishing Services Canberra,1989.
4. Senate Community Affairs Reference Committee Inquiry, Committee Hansard, 4 February 2004, p.30 cited in Senator Andrew Murray and Dr Marilyn Rock, The Impact of Childhood Trauma Across the Lifespan: Historical Denial – Current Challenges, September, 2005.
5. Colvin, K., The Women and Poverty Report: More than Half – Less than Equal, Victorian Council of Social Services, October, 2001, p 15.
6. Senate Community Affairs Reference Committee Inquiry, Committee Hansard, 4 February 2004, p.30 cited in Senator Andrew Murray and Dr Marilyn Rock, The Impact of Childhood Trauma Across the Lifespan: Historical Denial – Current Challenges, September, 2005.
7. CLAN, ‘Care Leaver Survey’ July 2007 (data collected in 2006, N = 291) Unlawful physical assault defined by the category ‘boxed on ears’ - a colloquial term indicating blows to the side of the head.
8. ibid.
9. Speaking For Themselves, Child Wise, August 2004, p 6.
10. ibid.
11. Am I Old Enough? Victoria Legal Aid, 2008
12. CLAN, ‘Care Leaver Survey’ July 2007 (data collected in 2006, N = 291)
13-19 ibid

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