Every child is born into the world rich with great potential and hope. Each individual infant starts life as a precious and unique human being, with vast unrealised potential. They each deserve the opportunity to reach adulthood possessing the skills and abilities required to live healthy and happy lives. The positive news is that the majority of children in our community receive a great start to life. Unfortunately, some do not.
For some children, their lives are fractured by events that befall their families or caregivers, who for a wide range of reasons, can no longer offer them the nurture and support that is so critical to their health and wellbeing. At times, this is for a short period but in many circumstances the State is required to assume the role of parenting on a short, medium or long term basis.
These children, for whom the State becomes the “parent”, enter the OOHC system. Currently there are approximately 1,100 children in State care here in Tasmania. Nationally there are over 46,000 kids in care. Of all of the states and territories, Tasmania has the lowest recurrent expenditure per child in OOHC, and the lowest expenditure on OOHC per placement night.
For some children and young people in care, the fracturing of relationships in their families of origin and the circumstances that brought them into care might mean that they have few, if any, adults on whom they can consistently rely. In effect, the State becomes their parent.
In this report I aim to present a number of observations, facts and findings that I hope will further contribute to our combined efforts as a community to improve outcomes for this very important cohort of children and young people.
As Commissioner for Children and Young People in Tasmania, the legislation that defines my role obliges me to provide impartial, independent and apolitical advice which promotes the best interests and well-being of children and young people in Tasmania. I do not provide individual advocacy for children and young people in OOHC but focus on systems and broad issues affecting children and young people.
This report is presented in this spirit and context.