Response to the Commission for Children and Young People’s Report: “In our own words: Systemic inquiry into the lived experience of children and young people in the Victorian out-of-home care system”

Wednesday, November 27, 2019
 
Berry Street CEO, Michael Perusco, said:
 
“Berry Street thanks the Commission for Children and Young People for its report, and for sharing the first-hand experiences of Victorian children and young people in out-of-home care. The stories are powerful and confronting.
 
“The Commission’s report painfully highlights that Victoria’s child protection and out-of-home care system is broken, and that we need to do better for the children and young people we remove from environments of abuse and neglect.
 
“Victoria’s child protection and out-of-home care system needs a complete overhaul. Currently, 80 children every week are being removed from their family and placed in care – that’s 11 children a day. Victoria is on track to have almost 26,000 children in out-of-home-care by 2026; more than any other state and territory. These are unprecedented numbers, and deeply alarming.
 
“Our system has not been designed for – and is not funded for – this level of demand, or for the increasingly complex levels of trauma these children have experienced. These compounding pressures are highlighting the system’s significant flaws and gaps, as revealed in the Commission’s report.
 
“Last week, Berry Street released economic modelling which shows that investment in targeted early intervention programs for children and families could save $1.6 billion over ten years. More importantly, it would prevent 1,200 children from entering out-of-home care every year. Over ten years of targeted investment, more than 11,000 children could avoid entering out-of-home care.
 
“Victoria’s leading child and family agencies are calling on the Victorian Government to invest in early intervention programs to significantly improve outcomes for Victoria’s most vulnerable children and families. While there will always be a need for child protection services for children who have suffered abuse and neglect, we must also ensure the system is able to focus on delivering better futures for these children. This requires investing in effective options that prevent harm to children before issues confronting families spiral out of control.
 
“Berry Street deeply values hearing from those with lived experience, and we thank the children and young people who participated in the Commission’s inquiry for sharing their stories. We recognise we must do better for the children entrusted to our care.
 
“Berry Street continually reviews its model of residential care, and will consider the report by the Commission for Children and Young People in detail, and what changes can be made within our services to improve the experiences of children and young people in out-of-home care.”
 
To arrange an interview with Berry Street CEO, Michael Perusco, please call Evelyn Ek – 0412 887 853