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Vic Auditor-General reviews progress with Vic resi care services

by PeakCare Qld on 24th June 2016

Home -> Articles -> 2016 -> June -> Vic Auditor-General reviews progress with Vic resi care services
In 2014, the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office audited residential care services for children and young people in Victoria. The audit found that the Department of Health and Human Services had failed to oversee and ensure the safety and development of children in the residential care system, and that there were significant shortcomings in the quality of oversight and staffing of services, as well as reporting outcomes achieved for children. The Auditor-General recently released the first of three reports on the department’s progress and completion of actions. While commending the department for swift responses and promising indications about addressing some long term systemic issues, the need for ongoing oversight of strategies to improve outcomes for children and the quality of residential care was stressed. Not surprisingly, Victoria and Queensland are tackling similar challenges and considering similar strategies to improve residential care services.

The 2014 audit found that residential care models were not addressing the needs of children with the most complex needs and an enormous investment was consequently made in ‘unfunded contingency placements’. Taking a broader approach, Victoria developed a Roadmap for Reform: strong families; safe children that includes increasing funding and support to home-based care and reducing the number of children in residential care. Children have participated in identifying issues and possible actions. New models seek to address systemic issues and expenditure on ‘unfunded contingency placements’ has halved. Models include something in between short term Secure Welfare Services and longer term therapeutic residential care service. Complaints processes have been considered, as has the feasibility of an independent advocate for children in residential care. Additional overnight staff in a pilot program, a capability framework, and plans to introduce minimum qualifications for residential care workers are in train. The department has introduced tools and processes to better monitor the department’s and service providers’ performance, as well as an annual survey against the out of home care Outcomes Framework to actually measure the impact on people’s lives. One outcome areas is ‘Aboriginal identity and rights’ and asserts that children and young people are proud of their Aboriginal identity and exercise their rights as Aboriginal people. From 1 March 2016, it became a requirement that the department actively monitor and report on compliance that Aboriginal children in State care have a cultural support plan.
Click here to read the 2016 report about progress in implementing the recommendations.
Click here to read the 2014 audit report and recommendations.
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