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Elizabeth Fraser

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  • 1. Where Do We Stand on Child Protection Needs? A presentation to the Australian Child Protection Forum by Elizabeth Fraser, advocate for children and young people 10 October 2013
  • 2. Understanding the Journey 10-Oct-13Elizabeth Fraser, advocate for children and young people 2
  • 3. 10-Oct-13Elizabeth Fraser, advocate for children and young people 3 Children as young as 4 years old would be sold by parents or bought from workhouses to be apprenticed to chimney sweeps Children prevented from working as chimney sweeps at end of 19th century Child apprentice chimney sweep
  • 4. 10-Oct-13Elizabeth Fraser, advocate for children and young people 4 Children, both boys and girls, started work in the mines, sometimes as young as 4 or 5 years old Hours of work for children in coal & tin mines, cotton mills, gas works & match factories reduced to 10 hours per day by middle of 19th century Child miners in the Industrial Revolution
  • 5.  Children prevented from working as chimney sweeps at end of 19th century  Hours of work for children in coal & tin mines, cotton mills, gas works & match factories reduced to 10 hours per day by middle of 19th century  Schools and institutions generally, with some exceptions, stopped strapping and caning children in last quarter of 20th century  Started recognising in any meaningful way the sexual abuse of children in 1990s Understanding the journey Elizabeth Fraser, advocate for children and young people 5 1010-Oct-13
  • 6.  Reasonable chastisement (parental smacking) defences  Naming and shaming  17 year olds in adult prisons  Secure care for children in child protection with extreme behaviours Understanding the Journey: Still discussing Elizabeth Fraser, advocate for children and young people 6 10-Oct-13
  • 7.  Minimum school leaving age  Child labour laws  Bans on smoking while children in cars  Special witness provisions for children  Bans on children smoking, getting tattoos, drinking alcohol  Working with children checks for people working with children  Requirements for risk management strategies  Alerting children to appropriate & inappropriate behaviour towards them 10-Oct-13Elizabeth Fraser, advocate for children and young people 7 Understanding the journey: Protections to Children Have Grown Over Time
  • 8. Current Challenges 10-Oct-13Elizabeth Fraser, advocate for children and young people 8
  • 9.  Increasing numbers of children notified to child protection agencies  Child protection statistics are a barometer of where we are at as a community  Question – Do increased child protection figures indicate moral decline or that we are now responding to matters that would have been tolerated 20 years ago? 10-Oct-13Elizabeth Fraser, advocate for children and young people 9 Current Challenges: High number of child protection notifications
  • 10.  Despite increased protections some children are not doing better  Families with children in the CP systems suffer a range of mental health, substance abuse, intellectual impairment and domestic violence issues, often across multiple generations  Question - For children from these circumstances, what are the thresholds that need to be met before the state intervenes?  Thresholds should be the same nationwide 10-Oct-13Elizabeth Fraser, advocate for children and young people 10 Current Challenges: Thresholds for intervention?
  • 11.  Question - For children who have suffered extreme abuse and neglect, how do we close the gap?  These children need sophisticated and complex responses on a par with sophisticated medical interventions  Usually they receive simplistic and minimal responses  Question - What is our underpinning belief system as to the level of state support we consider ‘fair’ to provide to vulnerable children and families? That is, how ‘high up’ should they be lifted? 10-Oct-13Elizabeth Fraser, advocate for children and young people 11 Current Challenges: How to close the gap?
  • 12.  View that people offload their children into the child protection system, and concerns that these children will get more benefits than those supported by their parents  Young people actively trying to get into detention centres  Question – Under what circumstances and what levels of disadvantage would children and young people have to be living to be seen to be better off living in foster care or a detention centre?  The state as a parent needs to be the model of an excellent parent, not merely a ‘good enough’ or even a ‘not quite good enough parent’ 10-Oct-13Elizabeth Fraser, advocate for children and young people 12 Current Challenges: The state as a parent – what type?
  • 13.  Costs to state of foregone economic and social contributions by not lifting people out of vulnerability  Costs to state through imposts on the child protection, justice, health and other welfare systems of maintaining people at their current level of dysfunction  These costs compounded exponentially as the numbers increase across each new generation  Question – What are the opportunity costs of not providing effective support?  Question – How much is society prepared to pay to effect change that won’t eventuate until a significant time in the future? 10-Oct-13Elizabeth Fraser, advocate for children and young people 13 Current Challenges: Costs of not responding?
  • 14.  Children in the child protection system are the most likely contributors to the next generation of disadvantage  Every support provided to a child in the child protection system reduces the likelihood of the intergenerational transmission of disadvantage  Every support in the child protection system is proactive  Every child supported out of vulnerability reduces the demands on the welfare system for them and future generations of their descendants 10-Oct-13Elizabeth Fraser, advocate for children and young people 14 Current Challenges: Understand that every support provided in CP system is proactive!
  • 15.  Very vulnerable families need support for the long term  Pressures to demonstrate value for money through improved functioning or program completion in a short period of time - not suited to a not-for-profit, or a for-profit, or a charitable frame  Families experiencing extreme dysfunction need government financial commitment for however long it takes 10-Oct-13Elizabeth Fraser, advocate for children and young people 15 Current Challenges: Who should provide the support and for how long?
  • 16.  Public health models of support provide the early alerts  Public health models of support need to be predictable and identifiable across the country  Need for consistent branding and consistent, non- stigmatising support service  Names of support services should not indicate vulnerability or inadequacy and should not indicate a charitable frame 10-Oct-13Elizabeth Fraser, advocate for children and young people 16 Current Challenges: How to provide a genuine public health model of support?
  • 17.  Importance of data in determining outcomes and driving continuous improvement  Data identify areas of disadvantage, provide a monitor of service delivery, indicate if changes are occurring  Important to include children’s views in data  If not children’s views, whose views will dominate?  Important not to be afraid of data and the outcomes – data are part of understanding the journey 10-Oct-13Elizabeth Fraser, advocate for children and young people 17 Current Challenges: Collecting and responding to data
  • 18. In Summary 10-Oct-13Elizabeth Fraser, advocate for children and young people 18
  • 19. 1. Do increased child protection figures indicate a decline in family and community functioning are do they indicate a reduced tolerance for child vulnerability? 2. What are the thresholds for intervention where a child is being abused or neglected and how can we make them consistent across Australia? 3. How do we close the gap for children who have suffered extreme abuse and neglect? 4. As a society, what is our underpinning belief system as to the level of state support we consider ‘fair’ to provide to vulnerable children and families? That is, how ‘high up’ should they be lifted? 10-Oct-13Elizabeth Fraser, advocate for children and young people 19 In summary: Where do we stand on child protection needs?
  • 20. 5. What quality of parent should the state be – a ‘just good enough’ parent, or an exceptional parent? 6. What are the costs of lost opportunity and the loss of human potential for not breaking the cycle of disadvantage? 7. How much is society prepared to pay to effect change that won’t eventuate until a significant time in the future? 8. How do we get the message across that every support provided in the child protection system is proactive? And that - Every child supported out of vulnerability reduces the demands on the welfare system for them and future generations of their descendants 10-Oct-13Elizabeth Fraser, advocate for children and young people 20 In summary Where do we stand on child protection needs?
  • 21. 9. Whose responsibility is it to provide the level of support needed - for as long as it is needed - to help break the cycle of disadvantage? 10. How do we deliver a genuine public health model of support to families - that is recognisable and predictable across the country? 11. What is the frame through which we see family support? Is it a 19th century charitable model, or a 21st century rights model of access to mainstream services? 12. How can we better understand the importance of data in informing where services are needed, in monitoring service delivery and in measuring outcomes? 10-Oct-13Elizabeth Fraser, advocate for children and young people 21 In summary – Where do we stand on child protection needs?
  • 22. Elizabeth Fraser Mitigating risks and achieving better outcomes for all kids needs strong advocacy, aspiration, effective strategies and quality data Thank you 10-Oct-13Elizabeth Fraser, advocate for children and young people 22