Most days in Victorian residential care, a child is sexually abused or exploited.
About twice a day, a child in the state’s residential care system self harms or attempts suicide.
A damning report from the Victorian Commissioner for Children and Young People found the child protection system is “broken” and especially failing indigenous children.
It recorded 246 incidents in 2018/19 of children in residential care being subject to sexual abuse or exploitation by people outside their unit, as well as 63 incidents from within their units.
It was actually a drop from the previous year, but that’s only because the department has changed how the numbers are reported.
“The commission is concerned about this change and also considers that it may reflect reduced attention to identifying and preventing sexual exploitation,” the report released on Wednesday said.
The “In Our Own Words” report heard from more than 200 children and young people who had been in Victoria’s out-of-home care, which includes residential care, foster care and kinship care.
“I was pushed off a resi roof and the kids made me do sex stuff,” Jane, 12, told the report.
The report included statistics showing 633 self harm and suicide attempts in residential care in 2018/19.
The report found a pressured, poorly resourced system repeatedly failed to take the views of children and young people into account when making important decisions.
That included where they should live, what they needed from their Child Protection workers and carers, what was happening to them in care, and the contact they had with friends, family and their communities.
Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People Justin Mohamed said since 2008/09, there had been a tripling of Aboriginal children removed by the state.
In 2017/18, nine out of every 100 Aboriginal children and young people in Victoria were in care.
“Our aim must be not just to reduce this over-representation, but to end it,” Mr Mohamed said.
“These disgraceful figures mean the harms of a deeply flawed system are amplified for Aboriginal children and young people.”
Commissioner for Children and Young People Liana Buchanan said children were often moved around with no warning or explanation.
“They often have no trusted worker they can talk to about their wishes,” she said.
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