TASMANIA has not moved fast enough to improve conditions for children in out-of-home care, according to children’s commissioner Aileen Ashford.
Ms Ashford said yesterday that it had taken five months for the state government to respond to parliamentary inquiry recommendations on child protection last December.
She said that there did not appear to be any action either on the Agenda for Children launched in July last year.
At the same time the number of children coming into care was growing at an alarming level.
At the end of June last year, 966 Tasmanian children were in care – a 50 per cent increase over the previous five years.
“But there was no matched increases in funding to provide appropriate out-of-home care accommodation and support to these very vulnerable children,” Ms Ashford said.
Children’s Minister Michelle O’Byrne said that the government response to last December’s select committee report “integrated a . . . response to children, young people and their families that elevates the focus from one of delivering on individual recommendations to one focusing on outcomes across six key areas for action.
“The response has seen Tasmania adopt a public health approach to the safety and wellbeing of children and young people.”
Opposition children’s spokeswoman Jacquie Petrusma said that Ms Ashford had been denied the right to randomly audit child protection files even though previous children’s commissioners had been able to access the information.
Ms Ashford said that the state did not have an independent statutory position specifically responsible for monitoring the child protection system and receiving individual complaints from children in care.
“Children’s voices are effectively silenced,” she said.