Statement from VACCA CEO
Better models of Residential Care long overdue
The Victorian Ombudsman report into assaults perpetrated against children living in residential care, tabled in the Victorian Parliament this morning, brings to light the limitations and failures of Victoria's residential care system - and the consequences for children.
Sadly, nothing in the report is surprising. There have been many previous reports. The experiences of Aboriginal children in residential care are inter-generational. The Stolen Generations experienced abuse and harm in residential and institutional care and have bravely shared their stories. Hearing and believing the Stolen Generations opened the pathway to healing.
Through this report five children and young people have shared their experiences of contemporary residential care, including an Aboriginal girl cared for by a number of agencies before being placed with VACCA. We believe what she has told us and the inquiry, we believe her and we believe in her.
The report is by no means new, the failures of the residential care system are well known, as are the solutions. The need to reform residential care remains urgent.
The Victorian Ombudsman stated that:
These failures are not the result of deliberate disregard for the welfare and safety of the children, either within the Department or the Community Service Organisations. They stem from a system that is neither resourced nor structured to address the multiple complex demands being placed on it.
VACCA supports the inquiry recommendation to transition residential care to smaller therapeutic residential homes with priority access to services to ensure children feel and are safe.
Creating smaller residential facilities as options for children is part of but not the whole solution. Changing the facility without changing the model of care will have limited impact. VACCA has developed Aboriginal models of residential care that focus on healing, engagement and connection with family, community and culture and supporting children and young people’s education and development.
VACCA calls upon the State Government to partner with the Aboriginal community controlled organisations to develop and fund local Aboriginal residential care facilities and programs to meet the best interests of Aboriginal children in care.