The hell Aussie kids are living in

Written By komlim puldel on Kamis, 16 April 2015 | 20.01

Not good enough ... the conditions in an out-of-home care facility. Picture: Supplied Source: Supplied

MATTRESSES on dirty floors, locked and almost empty kitchen cupboards — these are the shocking living conditions for children in the out-of-home care system.

The Australian Childhood Trauma Group told a parliamentary committee on Thursday of the treatment many children experience even after they are removed from at-risk family environments.

With the out-of-home care system likely to be discussed at Friday's Council of Australian Government's meeting in Canberra in the wake of the Chloe Valentine inquest, the Senate Community Affairs Committee examined the issue at a public hearing.

Disgrace ... a dirty mattress serves as child's bed. Source: Supplied

Chief Executive of the Australian Childhood Trauma Group Gregory Nicolau tabled photographs of the conditions he said many children in residential care are subject to.

RENDEZVIEW: 'I could have been Chloe Valentine'

Mr Nicolau said while there were many good examples within the care system, a significant number of residential placements were of very poor standards.

Locked out ... children in care are denied access to food cupboards. Source: Supplied

"There are mattresses on the floor and holes and marks on the walls," Mr Nicolau said.

"Children in the care services are forced to go and ask the workers if they can unlock cupboards when they want to access food.

"The workers often wear lanyards that clearly say that they are staff and they often go and lock themselves in their offices away from the children.

"When a child has already come from a traumatic family environment this is not the kind of caring environment that will help them on their journey."

The pictures Mr Nicolau tabled were taken in residential placements both last year and this year.

Shabby ... the lounge room of a home care facility for traumatised children. Source: Supplied

He said the conditions were standard in residential homes nationwide.

Mr Nicolau also said there was very little if any trauma support for children who had been removed from their families and placed into out-of-home care which created even more turmoil for those in the system.

He detailed the example of a nine-year-old girl who had suffered sexual abuse and was removed from her family, only to be dumped in a residential home where she was left in a room on her own.

Tragic case ... Chloe Valentine, with her grandmother, died of neglect while in the care of her mother Ashley Polkinghorne and her partner Ben McPartland Source: Supplied

Mr Nicolau said there needed to be an urgent Royal Commission into the care system to develop a framework that would provide vulnerable children with the right care needs.

"Placing more children in care is not the answer. Stopping children from coming into care in the first place is," he said.

"A Royal Commission will shine a light on this, as has been the case with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Chair of the committee, Greens Senator Rachel Siewert, said the images tabled by Mr Nicolau were "pretty confronting".

"It certainly doesn't inspire confidence that kids are getting the best support that they need in these situations," Senator Siewert said.

Liberal Senator Zed Seselja said the evidence presented by Mr Nicolau was "disturbing".

"It speaks to the fact the system is broken," he said.

"The system should prioritise putting kids in a safe, stable and loving environment."


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