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Nothing to see here? The abuse and neglect of children in care is a century-old story in Australia

Katherine McFarlane writes in The Conversation (15.11.16) about the long history of neglect and abuse suffered by many children in foster care, as exposed by a report on the ABC's Four Corners program.

'Last night’s Four Corners program presented evidence of widespread abuse and neglect suffered by children in the out-of-home care system. Sadly, it was an all too familiar story. The Australian care system has been subject to criticism for over a century.

'Children described bullying, harassment and sexual abuse inflicted by other children who share their homes. Children also described adult men preying on and sexually exploiting girls in “resi” or residential care.

'There were allegations of 12-year-olds being left without adequate clothing, stable accommodation or sufficient food, abandoned by the agencies that were supposed to care for them. Private, for-profit agencies were accused of financial mismanagement and rorting of taxpayer funds.

'... Government failure to hold the bureaucracy and its non-government sector partners accountable for poor decisions, inadequate oversight and accountability and the inefficient use of resources that erode the effective operations of the out of home care system is an indictment on us all.

'These failures have allowed the problem of abuse and neglect in care to seem insurmountable, regardless of the devastation caused to the children concerned. There have been repeated professions of political goodwill and the commitment of countless millions of dollars across child welfare, juvenile justice, homelessness, education and health services. Despite this, we have failed to stop kids being abused by the very people we have trusted to care for them.'

 

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