South Australia Question Time Parliament House - RE: Life Without Barriers and Foster Care
The Hon. SANDRA KANCK: I seek leave to make an explanation before asking the Minister for Transport and Urban Planning, representing the Minister for Human Services, a question about foster care services.
The Hon. SANDRA KANCK: For some time I have been expressing concern about the alternative care system that we have in South Australia. We are facing a serious shortage of foster carers at a time when there is an increase in children entering foster care with more complex needs than ever before. One of the few positive steps forward the government took was to support a longitudinal study undertaken by Flinders University. The research that tracked children entering foster care in this state was unprecedented in Australia.
According to a letter I received from the Child and Family Welfare Association, the Department of Human Services has withdrawn funding support for the study. I have been informed that this was under the direction of Ms Roxanne Ramsey, Executive Director of the Country and Disability Division. Sector workers now inform me that the Department of Human Services is actively obstructing the study. Researchers are prevented from speaking to the children who were part of the study, FAYS workers have been prevented from speaking to the researchers, and carers are not allowed to talk about the wellbeing of the children with researchers.
It has also emerged that the government commissioned consultants from New South Wales to undertake a review into alternative care in South Australia. These consultants failed to contact Flinders University regarding its research findings despite the fact that it was the longest tracking study of children in alternative care in Australia, and the second longest in the world.
Further, I am informed that a private company called Life Without Barriers from New South Wales has been advertising for foster carers since August 2001 in South Australia. This advertising began just one month after the contract for foster care had been extended by 12 months to current service providers. Yet foster carers are being approached by Life Without Barriers and asked to defect from the existing provider for more money.
"Life Without Barriers exposed - Kids for Cash"
Category: Life Without Barriers
Created: Friday, 06 July 2012 23:30
Written by Joanna Scriiven and Michael Borusiewicz
How Life Without Barriers began
In 1995 a group of lawyers and businessmen came together in Newcastle to form Life Without Barriers. Upon the appointment of Ray Dunne in 2001 as CEO, Life Without Barriers became a company on steroids feeding off society's most disadvantaged families and children.
Undoubtedly this is due to Ray Dunne's previous senior positions held within the Child Protection Departments of Families SA in South Australia, Department of Community Services in NSW (DoCS NSW) and Department of Child Safety in QLD (DoCS QLD).
Life Without Barriers Golden Handshakes
Ray Dunne was able to use his position of influence to turn Life Without Barriers into a company with merely a couple of offices in NSW to an impressive franchise which has now reached almost 100 offices across Australia. Highly commendable you might think but let us delve into the seedier side of Ray Dunn and the underbelly of Life Without Barriers, the golden handshakes, deals done behind closed doors and the corruption which cloaks and protects Life Without Barriers, which now receives over $500m a year from the NSW government alone.
Ray Dunne was able to illegally secure information on government tenders and priority over bids for the care of children in foster care. This has led to a monopoly on out of home care for children in the three states where Life Without Barriers are prevalent in Australia, QLD, SA and NSW.
One could be forgiven for assuming that this multi million dollar business could be responsible for the astounding increase in children in care in these three states compared to children in care throughout the rest of Australia.
NSW 70% increase in children in care
QLD 60% increase in children in care
SA 58% increase in children in care
Victoria with only a couple of Life Without Barriers offices has managed to reduce the number of children in care.
Click to view the secret transcripts that have mysteriously disappeared from SA Parliament Hansard.