GPV/KCV issues election Log of Claims

PRESS RELEASE……. MONDAY, 25 JUNE 2018.

GRANDPARENTS AND KINSHIP CARERS RELEASE AN ELECTION LOG OF CLAIMS

GPV/KCV has developed a ‘Log of Claims’ to be addressed in the forthcoming Victorian state election and beyond.

Grandparents Victoria/Kinship Carers Victoria is a statewide organisation with the best interests of all children at the core of its work. It is with this scope in mind that the claims have been developed. The claims are fitting when considering both the current and future needs of the grandchildren.

“GPV/KCV takes seriously the articles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), to which Australia is a signatory, and expects that leaders across Australia, be they at national state regional or local level, will do the same.  All fourteen claims are based in the articles of the UNCRC” said, Anne McLeish. Director of GPV/KCV.

Five of the claims are closest to our hearts, in that GPV/KCV has determined that they will have fare reaching positive effects on the lives of families and the children with in them, said Mrs. McLeish. Primary amongst them is the call for a system of child impact statements that would help guarantee children’s rights.

Children’s’ rights

GPV/KCV calls on the Victorian Government and its agencies to document the impact that any changes to legislation/policy will have on outcomes for children. Every piece of legislation, as well as all changes to regulations and practices, should be accompanied by a ‘Child Impact Statement’ (CIS) consisting of an analysis predicting the potential outcomes for child wellbeing in the medium, short and long terms.

Each CIS must measure the extent to which policy and practice contributes to improved adherence to the following rights for children and young people out-of-home care

The positive outcomes for children in kinship care are astounding, with many of our most traumatised children being “turned away” from a life of isolation and loneliness to one of fulfilment and ongoing connection with family. Despite this kinship carers continue to suffer unreasonable hardship, sometimes perpetrated by authorities that should know better.

This grim knowledge leads GPV/KCV to call for a review of cases where children have been placed by DHHS or the courts in kinship care and where the case has been quickly closed, with no further support from DHHS forthcoming.

Education

GPV/KCV believes that education is a key element in ensuring positive outcomes for children as they mature into adult life and that children have the right to a high-quality education that ensures that all students experience success at school.

This understanding has lead GPV/KCV to call for reinforcement of the capacity of the Education

Lookout Centres to do more work better in their efforts to support children with learning problems.

Family Welfare

GPV/KCV believes that it is the responsibility of a civilized society to have an equitable welfare

system that operates as a safety net to ensure that families have access to the basic necessities of life. Therefore, welfare measures should support families without stigmatising them, and enable them to better their circumstances, rather than crushing them.

This foundation understanding leads GPV/KCV to call on the Victorian Government to stop all use of the cashless welfare card within Victorian borders, until credible longitudinal research indicates that it has sufficient benefits to warrant taking way people’s rights to manage their own affairs.

Health

GPV/KCV believes in a child’s right to enjoy good health and high-quality health care, and that ensuring children’s wellbeing relies in part on encouraging a healthy lifestyle.

The need to promote positive self help approaches to life that we call on the government to establish a broadly-based state committee to affirm the many exciting approaches to play currently being implemented and to further support Article 31 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to be able to play.  The UN has made this article an issue of international significance that Australia should be doing more to promote.

Given Australia’s resources, compared with other UN countries, we should be playing a leadership role and perhaps even partnering with some poverty-stricken countries to support children play, said Anne McLeish

GPV/KCV contends these claims should be the subject of ongoing action by government to ensure that the issues are addressed by a government lead co-ordinated approach to both policy and practice in relation to each one.

To download the full log of claims, click here. (PDF format 134KB)

Further comment Anne McLeish (03) 93722422

(mobile number on application)


GPV/KCV applauds the Auditor General

GPV/KCV applauds the Auditor General for his report into the Mental Health of Child Protection Practitioners (May 2018)

GPV/KCV has long held the view that CPPs are overworked; a circumstance that leads to kinship carers being case-managed by stressed workers. The results are often catastrophic with poor decisions about child welfare made. Continue Reading


At last – kinship carers are vindicated

Press release 13th December 2017

“Today’s report from the Ombudsman detailing anomalies present in the treatment of kinship carers is vindication for those many carers who have complained many times over many years.

Many carers who read this report will be upset anew as they see their trials and tribulations in dealing with child protection services actually written down and acknowledged.

This acknowledgement of the validity of their complaints is in itself a great service to them and they will thank the Ombudsman for it.   Such acknowledgment will enable them to get past the self-doubts arising from dealing with what seemed like an uncaring bureaucracy.

The Ombudsman’s exposure of the problems and their alignment with clear sighted recommendations for the future, if implemented in their entirety by DHHS, will go a long way towards eradicating system wide mistakes in the future.

Some poor decisions in child protection will always be present, they are unavoidable in an area of high pressures where child protection staff are over stretched, where children and families are vulnerable, where resources are inadequate and where the stakes, that is the lives of children, are high. However, the level of poor decision making surrounding kinship care is wide spread and it is this spread that the Ombudsman’s recommendations should stem.

The Ombudsman’s recommendations will fix the procedures but will not inspire a change of attitude towards kinship care.      Some grandparent kinship carers have had to battle past child protection officer’s  beliefs that that the predicament the family finds itself – where the children are removed for the parents – is the fault of the grandparents who had a hand in shaping their family and creating fault lines.  No partnership between child protection services and carers is possible in such an environment of misunderstanding.

The required change of culture is likely to arise from the appointment of kinship care specialist with child protection services announced on December 12th.   Such a squad of people has the capacity to infect the system with deeper understandings and a more positive attitude as well as alleviating some of the pressures on child protection staff.

The Ombudsman’s intervention in some cases along the course of the investigations for this report are also acknowledged.  It is already legend amongst the kinship care circles that the Ombudsman’s staff took the trouble to ask for DHHS for review of cases they encountered when talking to carers. Anomalies were thus fixed in short time, in some cases after years of the carer waiting for a solution.

This independent scrutiny by the Ombudsman, both the report tabled today and the intervention into individual cases has been powerful and indicates the need for ongoing independent scrutiny. Certainly, the carers have learned that how helpful the Ombudsman can be – a lesson that will not be forgotten.

Perhaps it is time to rethink the whole structure of child protection and to look at ongoing scrutiny in ways that are more positive than occasional investigations bought about by a litany of individual complaints.  Perhaps, as one option, we could strengthen the resource capacity of the Children’s Commissioner to have a greater role in monitoring all that we do in regard to child protection and to issue regular reports to the wider community about how we are tracking in the full range of child protection matters, not the least of which is kinship care. The point is that no matter how we achieve it, more transparency is called for.

The recommendations of the Ombudsman, along with the government announcement on December

12th about 33 million new dollars to support kinship care and the governments announcement about new information sharing to ensure early identification of, and assistance to children at risk, present opportunities for grand changes in Victoria’s kinship care system.  These initiatives are sufficient to give kinship carers some faith in the government to deliver creative and responsive programs.

Kinship carers are mindful of the need for national leadership about the role of kinship care in creating healthy families and communities.    For years, the Australian Government ignored its own Senate report (2014) into grandparents raising grandchildren for example. When a response was forthcoming after years of reminders from kinship carers, the Australian Government merely served washed its hands of responsibility by arguing that these matters were states matters.  Nonsense, the care of children is in fact a matter of the gravest national significance.

If we view this point in our kinship care history as an opportunity for an innovative new start then Victoria is well placed to lead a much-needed national discussion on the role of kinship care within out of home care.”

 

Anne McLeish

Director, Grandparents Victoria and Kinship Carers Victoria

 

The Report will also be available on the Victorian Ombudsman’s website and the KCV website.


Same-sex marriage

The Board of Grandparents Victoria and Kinship Carers Victoria believes that families are made up of many complex relationships and that the role of grandparents in keeping these relationships healthy is crucial, involving acceptance of the diversity amongst us all.

The Board supports the right of same-sex couples to make their own decisions about whether or not they marry.  The Board urges the Australian Parliament to make it possible through changes to legislation for this right to be enabled.

The Board supports the stance taken by Australian Human Rights Commission which considers that the fundamental human rights principle of equality means that civil marriage should be available, without discrimination, to all couples, regardless of sex, sexual orientation or gender identity.

Further, the Board believes that too many precious public funds have been expended on this debate, that no more should be wasted and that the Australian Government should lead the way to resolve this matter quickly.