Lawyers to provide early intervention in care and protection matters

Child in a yellow raincoat, carrying a yellow umbrella walking on a roadFamilies involved in care and protection matters will now be referred to access early legal advice, under a new partnership between the NSW Government and legal agencies aimed at reducing the over-representation of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care.  

It comes as new laws are expected to come into effect in November that require the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) to take “active efforts” to prevent children from being removed, as well as restore children to their parents or place them with family.  

In response, Legal Aid NSW, the Aboriginal Legal Service (ALS), and DCJ have entered into a partnership that will mobilise solicitors to provide early independent legal advice to support families in the care and protection jurisdiction and avoid unnecessary separation.  

Left hungry and too cold to go to school: Urgent review of children in care

The state government has ordered an immediate review of out-of-home care services for children in NSW following claims that two boys were left hungry and too cold to go to school this year while their care provider sought thousands of dollars a day to look after them.

In a devastating assessment of the sector, a children’s court magistrate has detailed the “unconscionable” treatment, “appalling neglect,” and “failure” in care by providers, including Lifestyle Solutions and the NSW Department of Communities and Justice.

Two young boys, dubbed Finn and Lincoln Hughes, were left too cold and hungry to go to school, a court has heard.Two young boys, dubbed Finn and Lincoln Hughes, were left too cold and hungry to go to school, a court has heard.Credit: Fairfax Media

In granting an application for a clinical report into the wellbeing of the boys, dubbed Finn and Lincoln Hughes by the court, magistrate Tracy Sheedy put on record details of the plight of the children, including:

  • how they complained to their school principal of hunger pains and to their lawyer about not having enough food;
  • how they were too cold to go to school because they did not have a winter uniform;
  • how their care provider quoted $77,000 per month to care for them;
  • and how their psychological welfare was suffering after experiencing a police raid, separation from siblings, and abuse in care since coming to the attention of authorities.

‘Absolutely appalling’: 100 vulnerable children died in NSW last year

Report finds suicide among cohort reached five-year peak while risk of significant harm rose steadily, with Indigenous children over-represented.

About 100 vulnerable children died in New South Wales last year despite being known by the state justice’s system, according to a government report described as “absolutely appalling” by the national children’s commissioner.

Suicide among vulnerable children peaked to its highest level in five years while risk of significant harm reports have steadily increased for a decade, according to the NSW government’s annual report into child deaths.

Just over one in five of the 100 deaths were Indigenous.

It was the highest number of deaths found since 2011 and the third year in a row the case numbers had increased.

NSW Labor said the most vulnerable children in the state were being left behind and needed “urgent” state government support.

“Year after year the … government delivers platitudes instead of funding,” Labor’s spokesperson for family and community services, Kate Washington, said.

NSW child-protection workers 'regularly' mislead court and needlessly take Indigenous kids: report

A damning review of Facs’ approach to Aboriginal families finds urgent reform is needed.

New South Wales child protection workers regularly give “misleading” evidence to the children’s court, often take the most traumatic option by removing Aboriginal children – including newborns – from their families, and operate in a “closed system” that needs urgent reform to make it more transparent and child-friendly, according to a new report.

The Family is Culture review released this week is a three-year study of the case files of 1,144 Aboriginal children who entered the NSW out-of-home-care system between 2015 and 2016.

In the worst cases, the review found “children who did not appear to be at risk of harm were removed from their families”, the children’s court was “misinformed about vitally important information” and, in a deeply concerning finding, in some cases “the location of young people under the care and protection of the minister was unknown”.

A child
Child protection: governments found to be spending $500m a year without any real gains.

Former Community Services worker sued for failing to protect sisters from sexually abusive stepfather

After suffering years of sexual abuse at the hands of their stepfather, two sisters are suing a former community services case worker and the NSW Government for failing to protect them.  The women, known as TB and DC, say that despite knowing about the abuse and documenting their complaints, both the department and the former officer did not report it to the police.

Lawyers for the pair say it is the first time a Department of Community Services (DOCS) worker has been personally sued for not protecting children at risk. The former worker, Carolyn Quinn, is now a high-profile child protection consultant and was appointed by the minister to the NSW Carers Advisory Council.

The abuse of the two girls began in the 1970s when they were five and eight.  Their stepfather repeatedly raped and indecently assaulted them. He took sexually explicit photographs of the pair and regularly beat and threatened them.  The court heard that their stepfather would beat the girls with a leather strap, threaten them with a knife and handcuff them. 

In early 1983, one of the sisters phoned the then-Department of Youth and Community Services (now DOCS) to report the abuse.  Ms Quinn interviewed the girl and prepared a report detailing their story.

Sisters abused by Stepfather awarded $1.5m

crime-sceneTwo sisters who sued the state of New South Wales for failing to protect them from their abusive stepfather have been awarded almost $1.5 million in damages after an eight-year battle for compensation.

The women, known as TB and DC, were repeatedly raped and indecently assaulted by their stepfather when they were children in the 1970s and 1980s.

The payout marks the end of a long legal battle for the sisters, which began in 2008 when they sued the state and their former community services case worker for negligence in the NSW Supreme Court.

They claimed that despite knowing about the abuse and documenting their complaints, both the Department of Community Services (DOCS) and the officer did not report it to the police. They alleged that had the abuse been reported, they would have been protected from further abuse.

The former case worker, Carolyn Quinn, is now a high-profile child protection consultant and a former member of the NSW Carers Advisory Council.

Last year, the sisters lost their initial claim, with Justice D ruling that while the department had failed in its duty of care to report the abuse, he did not accept that the abuse continued after DOCS was first notified in 1983.

Justice Campbell ruled Ms Quinn did not owe the girls a duty of care and even if she had, she had fulfilled that duty by reporting the abuse to her superiors.

ACT child protection laws 'well short' of human rights standards, Human Rights Commissioner says

The ACT's child protection laws "fall well short" of human rights standards, a Legislative Assembly inquiry has heard.

The inquiry was sparked by the ACT government's wrongful removal of five Aboriginal children from their mother in 2013. The case was settled in court early last year, ending the mother's five-year battle to have her children returned to her care. 

Report shows improvements to state’s child protection system

Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence
The Honourable Di Farmer

[This is the same woman who sat idly by as the Watter Twins were sent back to live with the man they identified as their rapist.  The same woman who ignored the pleas and the testimony of Australia’s most prominent child sexual abuse expert, Professor Freda Briggs and blocked the emails of other advocates who were desperately trying to have the voices of two innocent children who were being regularly brutally assaulted in the “care” of their father - whom was awarded full-time custody of these kids after their continued disclosures of sexual assaults went unheard by all those tasked with protecting them from harm.  And you really think this thing could actually accomplish any positive changes, when she couldn’t even protect two kids let alone ten thousand.]

Queensland’s child protection reform program is seeing results with the latest Report on Government Services (RoGs) showing encouraging signs that Queensland’s reforms are working.

Secret files show DoCS visits to at-risk kids have decreased

THE number of beaten, sexually assaulted or at-risk children receiving intervention from Community Service caseworkers has dropped dramatically in the past year, official figures show.

A Community Services report stamped "Confidential - not for further distribution", leaked to The Sunday Telegraph, reveals the number of children at serious risk of harm who were visited by a caseworker dropped by 13 per cent in 2010.

It comes as a senior bureaucrat has authored a separate internal report which states caseworkers are not visiting children at risk of serious harm because of red tape and a fear of being blamed if the child is murdered.

Netted, drugged, locked away: the damning face of child mental health in SA

South Australian children experiencing mental crises are being tied down under nets, locked up in seclusion at extreme rates and forcibly injected with sedating drugs, prompting warnings youngsters are suffering lasting harm from coercive health-system practices.

Nets are being used to tie children to ambulance stretchers to take them to the hospital and, once there, children are being locked in seclusion at a rate which is the country’s highest, far outstripping the national average.

Murdered woman's family blame government department for her horrific death

The family of a young West Australian woman killed by her ex-partner says decisions made by officers of a government department contributed to her tragic death.

Charlotte was a 19-year-old woman caught in a vicious cycle of abuse at the hands of her partner.

Charlotte's killer will be sentenced in October.

Charlotte's killer will be sentenced in October.CREDIT:FILE IMAGE

Foster carer charged with assaulting kids

 A northern NSW foster carer has been charged with indecently assaulting three children in his care. A 77-YEAR-OLD foster carer on the NSW north coast has been arrested and charged with indecently assaulting three children in his care.

The man was arrested at his home in Lennox Head on Wednesday and is accused of indecently assaulting three children previously in his care between 2009 and 2011.