19 September 2017
The Guardian’s Office has been auditing the Annual Reviews of children in care for 10 years now. We do this to advocate for the children, to see how well the Reviews work and to identify broader systemic issues.
Annual reviews are an important means of monitoring the quality of services provided and the outcomes being achieved for children in care. They are intended to be more than an administrative process. A good annual review focuses on the quality of the child’s care arrangements as a whole
Although required in legislation, only 63 percent were conducted in 2015-16. The number of Annual Reviews for 2016-17 will be available shortly. Based on 10 years of observations and data we can say:
- Where Annual Reviews are conducted, the quality is very variable. Deficits in the representation of children’s views, the preparation by social workers and the presence of non-Departmental staff lead to inadequate consideration of the child’s circumstances and planning for their needs.
- Up to 80 percent of children were assessed to be in a long-term, stable and appropriate placement.
- Numbers of children are not allocated a social worker and, where a worker is allocated, other circumstances prevent the provision of a quality service to children.
- The cultural needs of many Aboriginal children are not being adequately supported.
- Significant numbers of children remain in unsuitable placements.
- Contact between siblings separated in placement is not always facilitated.
- Life Story Books are implemented for about half of the children.
- The proportion of children with IEPs has not progressed beyond 80 percent and may be declining.
- Of the children who are able to comprehend it, many do not receive information about their rights and the proportion who do appears to be declining.
For the background to this summary, you can download the report Audits of Annual Reviews 2007- 2017- children, systems and practice.