In her 2013-14 report on the wellbeing of children in larger residential units in South Australia the Guardian notes ‘significant risks to child safety and huge challenges to residents and staff in coping with intimidating social environments.
‘The risks are particularly high for children with complex needs, yet the tendency in placement decisions has been to accommodate the highest need children in the larger facilities where there is reduced staff availability and more volatile dynamics among residents.
‘The larger units should be closed permanently.’
The Guardian is concerned about safety arising from the use of restraint, frequent absences from the units and the placement of residents without due consideration of their needs.
‘Residents should have access to a range of formal complaints and feedback mechanism in all units.’
To improve the quality of nurture, the Guardian recommends a ‘renewed emphasis on training for staff in caring for children with special needs’ and further improved recording of the causes and consequences of disciplinary action.
Bullying among residents is still a major cause of a stressful living environment and supervisors talked of the difficulty of managing it.
For more detail, read Monitoring report 2013-14 – Larger residential care environments from the Guardian’s Office.