Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Reforms to FamiliesSA

The Nyland report into FamiliesSA has highlighted the changes that most of us have been anticipating for years. It makes one wonder why it is that they need to have an inquiry into what most people knew to begin with. The Report suggests that management need to have some experience in the area of child protection. I guess that now excludes the current CE of FamiliesSA. How did it make sense that to manage an organisation with a strong professional staff component you would employ non-professional staff to manage. This goes from the top down.

Social Work is a profession with high ethical principles. It is the only profession where "social justice" is embedded in its code of ethics. How is it possible for an organisation to manifest those values if the people running the organisation don't understand them or even won't allow them to be expressed?

Child Protection is not going to change by appointing someone from overseas, as if they have the solution to the problem. Real change will only occur when we begin to think about Child Protection differently. Below I offer the recommendations of the Child Protection Party.

Our recommendations are:-

  1. Children need to maintain connections with their biological family.
  2. Where possible children need to remain with their biological family.
  3. Siblings should remain together.
  4. Parents should be provided with as much contact with their children as they would like when a child is in care.
  5. Relationships with foster parents and biological parents should be fostered and supported by the agency.
  6. Ongoing and continual support should be provided for foster parents.
  7. Children in care should receive additional educational and social supports.
  8. Children exiting care should be offered additional educational support eg easier access to University and other further education. 
  9. Social Workers should be registered with the AASW before they are employed.
  10. Social Workers who fail to comply with the standards set by the AASW should not be practicing in this area and breaches should be reported to the AASW.
  11. Social Workers need to be trained to engage with parents and family members with the view to implementing change so that children can remain within their family.
  12. Social Workers need to acquire the skill set to work effectively in this area.
  13. Services need to be provided for family that are at risk of having their children removed. Engagement with these services should be viewed as a positive step and not result in a child being removed unless the child is at risk of serious harm.
  14. The Youth Court should be abolished and a structure created which provides a voice for parents and children. Lawyers should be prohibited from this court. Cases should be submitted to a panel, consisting of a social worker, judge, lawyer, psychologist and a stakeholder or member of the public. This court should provide the Child Protection agency with a case plan and monitor its progress.
  15. All Social Workers  should be supervised according to the standards established by the AASW.

I am certain that I have missed some important areas but I incorporated the most salient. Unless these areas are addressed nothing will change. It is imperative that we continue the conversation and not accept Nyland's report as the solution to the problem because it fails in so many areas. I am hoping that her final report will highlight some of the areas I have mentioned above.

It is disappointing that so many of us over the years have offered ideas that will make the changes required, but it has become apparent that the gatekeepers in the child protection industry do not want to accept and implement these vital changes. I believe that those in power do not understand the real issues and that failure to grasp what really needs to change will produce more of the same and the dysfunctionality of FSA will continue.

As the founder of the Child Protection Party I offer these suggestions so that they can be debated and when a state election is held we will be able to take these to that election and win.