Inadequate placement matching causing fear among children and young people in care

An overwhelmed system continues to see some children and young people removed from their families but placed in care environments where they are still at significant risk of harm.

The 2018-19 Guardian for Children and Young People’s Annual Report has highlighted concerns about deficiencies in placement allocation and matching for children and young people in care, particularly those living in residential care.

The availability of family-based care falls drastically short of the number of children and young people coming into care. As a result, too many children are being put into temporary and long-term residential and commercial care without adequate planning and/or appropriate matching with other residents, and with inadequate consultation of the children and young people affected.

This results in some children and young people being subject to serious physical and sexual abuse, perpetrated by their co-residents. In other cases, children and young people have sustained emotional and psychological harm from co-resident intimidation, bullying, verbal taunts and threats, and witnessing critical incidents of physical violence and property damage.

“In consideration of the extensive trauma that many of these young people have already experienced, ongoing exposure to trauma and abuse in care creates a significant risk of harm – both immediate and cumulative,” Guardian Penny Wright said in the report.

Data from enquiries received by our office noted that the majority of children and young people who directly initiated contact with us were living in residential care and commercial care arrangements, with the primary presenting issues being safety and stability in care.

A lack of disability-specific therapeutic placements to cater for the needs of children and young people with disabilities and trauma-related behaviours, was also a cause for concern.

Furthermore, the annual report highlighted that some children and young people in care who have been detained at the Adelaide Youth Training Centre (known as ‘dual involved’) have elected to remain there because of feeling fearful and unsafe in their primary place of residents in residential or commercial care.

In other instances, young people are being unnecessarily detained for longer periods in the AYTC than would otherwise be the case, due to lack of placement availability and/or challenges in communication across the child protection and youth justice systems.

The additional concerns of these ‘dual involved’ children and young people are a focus for our office, and we are currently preparing a report due to be released next month addressing the issues that these children and young people face.

Read the annual report in full.

The Guardian’s Year in Review 2017-18

year in review cover

At June 2018 there were 3,695 children in out-of-home care and 3,402 on care and protection orders in South Australia. Many of those children will have thrived in stable, safe and loving placements. Supported by dedicated adults, many will have made the hard journey back from trauma and neglect, developing strong identities and building friendships. Some will have excelled at school, in sport, music or the arts.

However, it is also true that for many children our state continues to seriously fail its obligations as parent.

In the Year in Review 2017-18*, the Guardian considers some of the successes and the delays in the child protection reform process that still leave many children in less-than-ideal circumstances.  She looks at the slow transition to a system based on prevention and early intervention, to improvements in foster and kinship care services and to the ongoing problems challenging residential and emergency care.  Therapeutic care for all children as envisioned by Commissioner Nyland and significant progress in listening to the voices of children in care still seem some way off.

The Year in Review 2017-18 is now available for download.


*The Year in Review 2017-18 uses material originally published in the 2017-18 Annual Report

The Training Centre Visitor’s Annual Report 2017-18

graphic of annual report

The first Training Centre Visitor was appointed in December 2016 to visit, advocate, inspect, inquire and investigate matters relating to the residents of youth detention facilities in SA and provide advice to the relevant minister.  This first report covers the establishment phase of the scheme and some individual advocacy with visits proper commencing after the period covered by this report.

You can download the Training Centre Visitor’s Annual Report 2017-18 now.

The Guardian’s Annual Report 2015-16

1 November, 2016

You can download a PDF copy of the Guardian for Children and Young People 2015-16 Annual Report from this website. The Report was tabled in the South Australian Parliament on 1 November 2016.

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The Guardian’s Annual Report 2014-15

You can download a PDF copy of the Guardian for Children and Young People 2014-15 Annual Report from this website. The report was tabled in the South Australian Parliament on 29 October.

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The Year in Review 2013-14

Year in Review 2014 graphic

11 November 2014

2013-14 in Review – What Children Want From Us is a concise summary of the year for South Australia’s children and young people in care as seen through the work of the Guardian’s Office. It is based on material which originally appeared in the Guardian’s Annual Report for 2013-14.

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The Year in Review 2012-13

YiR 2012-13

2 December 2013

2012-13 in Review – Delivering on the Promise of Good Care for Children is a concise summary of the year for South Australia’s children and young people in care as seen through the work of the Guardian’s Office.  It is based on material which originally appeared in the Guardian’s Annual Report for 2012-13.

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