In April we released a Report on the Wellbeing of Children and Young People in Care. This is a summary of what we had learnt in 2008-09 from our visits to children in residential care, audits of annual reviews, consulting with workers and from aggregate data.
In the past few months we have been consulting with people about the quality of mental health services to understand better what the key issues are and what can be done to further improve the mental health of children and young people in care. This is ongoing work for us. See the story on page four.
We have participated in the consultation on national standards for out of home care with a joint submission from the Australian Children’s Commissioners and Guardians and our own written submission.
The implementation of the Information Sharing Guidelines for Promoting the Safety and Wellbeing of Children, Young People and Their Families is going well, with an increasing number of agencies preparing to adopt the guidelines. The stage one agencies are already using their procedures to good effect. The early feedback suggests its purpose in intervening earlier when families are in strife is being met in part and has prompted good discussion about service flexibility and service gaps.
Our new website is a hit with a big jump in the number of visitors. April saw the total of publications on the site reach 100 and thanks to a range of new search tools, information about children and young people in care on the site is much easier to find.
In the first quarter of the year, 106 reviews were audited at Ceduna, Kadina, Marion, Murray Bridge, Onkaparinga, Port Pirie, Refugee Services, Riverland, Salisbury, Limestone Coast and Woodville, and 16 visits made to children living in residential and secure care. There were 27 requests for intervention, representing 22 children and young people in care. The Office is monitoring the progress of 51 investigations of allegations of sexual abuse.
Amanda Shaw returns to the role of Senior Advocate in the Office and Lisa Firth takes up a temporary position with the Health and Community Services Complaints Commissioner. Kendall Crowe joins the Office in the role of Senior Policy Officer.