‘Don’t blame the public service for child protection failures’

A political attack on child protection workers in the ACT is unfair and unfounded, the expert who chaired a review into the system says. There’s only so much the public sector can do.

The ACT opposition today attacked Canberra’s care and protection services for children and young people, based on the annual report of a committee whose chair says they’ve got it wrong. She is highlighting the complex role the public sector has in child protection.

According to the shadow minister for family and community services, Nicole Lawder: “The ACT Children and Young People Death Review Committee 2013-14 Annual Report released yesterday highlights ongoing and systemic issues within the ACT’s care and protection services.”

But the report shows nothing of the sort, according to former Australian Institute of Health and Welfare director Penny Gregory, who chairs the independent committee.

Lawder says the report is “particularly disturbing” because it shows “38 of the 109 deaths between 2009 and 2014 were of children and young people either in the care of or known to Community Services”. But Gregory says that figure is incorrect.

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