Legislative Council: Wednesday, June 28, 2023


Children in State Care

The Hon. C. BONAROS (15:13): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Primary Industries, representing the Minister for Child Protection in another place, a question about children in state care.

Leave granted.

The Hon. C. BONAROS: The Guardian for Children and Young People, Ms Reid, released her latest report on children in state care, which makes for very disturbing reading. It reveals SA has some of the worst results in the country when it comes to child protection indicators, including:

a staggering 118 children under the age of 10 living in residential care as at 30 June this year, being 16.6 per cent of the total residential care population;

South Australia having the second highest rate of children and young people in out-of-home care in the country;

one in 11 Aboriginal children and young people in SA living in out-of-home care as at June 2022, compared to one in 130 non-Aboriginal children and young people;

the number of Aboriginal children and young people living in residential care in SA as at 30 June 2022 growing at five times the rate of non-Aboriginal children;

investment in combined family support and intensive family support services in South Australia remaining below the national average; and

expenditure on protective intervention services in SA remaining the lowest in Australia and even decreasing in 2021-22.

In response to these statistics, the minister said that the latest budget allocated an additional $216.6 million to the child protection system, yet more than half of that will be needed to house children in state-run homes over the next five years. My questions to the minister are:

1. Does the government agree the guardian's report is evidence successive governments are failing some of South Australia's most vulnerable kids?

2. What effective, proactive, proven programs is the government planning to introduce apart from the child diversion program and support program for Indigenous youth appearing in the District Court, as announced by the Attorney last week, which was a good measure, given whatever programs currently in place aren't working?

3. Does the government acknowledge the appalling standing on a national level that South Australia has with these statistics?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (15:15): I am happy, of course, to refer that question to the minister in the other place and bring back a response. I think everyone in this place would share a strong commitment to children in our community being as safe as is possible, and everything that we can do collectively to assist in that process will be definitely worthwhile. Once I have a response from the minister in the other place, I will bring it back to the chamber.