In the 2013-14 report on the wellbeing of children in smaller residential units in South Australia the Guardian’s report observes that the quality of care across the 14 houses visited was variable.
The levels of comfort or tension among residents varied significantly from one house to another but the report said ‘overall, the observed interactions between residents and staff were respectful and warm.’ The Report recommended training for staff should have ‘continuous emphasis on building skills for positive communication with children and young people and on working with children who have disabilities and challenging behaviours as a result of trauma.
The Guardian is concerned about safety issues arising from absence from houses and bullying and urges closer monitoring of responses to allegations of abuse, improved recording of the causes and consequences of disciplinary action and the introduction of anti-bullying strategies.
The Report noted that in many houses a more formalised and systematic complaints process, active promotion of the rights of children and regular residents’ meeting would more effectively promote the voice of residents.
Satisfaction with the level of contact with family and friends varied among children.
The Guardian urged ‘appropriate strategy and related training for staff that promotes cultural support to Aboriginal children and young people through daily interactions and activities.’
For the full picture, read Monitoring report 2013-14 – Smaller residential care environments from the Guardian’s Office.