Victoria Shadow Minister for Community Services Mary Wooldridge
Children Dying Under Brumby’s Watch
Victor P Taffa
The deaths of twenty-six highly vulnerable children have today been added to Premier John Brumby’s shameful legacy of failure on child protection, Shadow Minister for Community Services Mary Wooldridge said today.
“The Annual Report of the Child Death Review Committee Inquiries into the deaths of children known to Child Protection 2010 tabled in Parliament today condemns Premier John Brumby and his government for a lack of leadership, failure to assess at-risk children and failure to listen to families and children.”
“Instead of being helped and protected, this report shows that vulnerable children are further neglected by the Brumby Government’s corroding child protection system where services are chronically under-staffed and under pressure.” Ms. Wooldridge said.
“This is the third report in nine months that shows John Brumby and his government do not care about vulnerable children who, under the Brumby Government’s watch, are being re-traumatised, neglected and in some cases dying.”
“When asked about this appalling failure and neglect in Parliament today, John Brumby’s incompetent Minister for Community Services could only use her glib pre-prepared response and could not even explain her failure to look after Victoria’s vulnerable children.”
“What this report shows is that in a like-for-like comparison, more children in child protection died last year than in any other year since 2002.” Ms. Wooldridge said.
“Labor’s sneaky changes to reporting of child deaths in 2007 removed the requirement to report on deaths of children in the Government’s Child First program. The Government was subsequently forced to reinstate this requirement, thereby adding an extra five deaths to the initial 2009 total of 18.”
“It is deeply disturbing that the assessment of these five children had not determined that they should be in the care of child protection.” Ms. Wooldridge said.
The report not only highlights the failure of the government’s child protection system but also the failure to coordinate much needed mental health and drug and alcohol services for vulnerable families.
“Lisa Neville, as Minister for Community Services and Mental Health is responsible for protecting vulnerable children and their families, but once again it is clear that she has failed to do her job.” Ms. Wooldridge said