Last week the Office of the Advocate for Children and Young People (ACYP) announced it was undertaking a Special Inquiry into Alternative Care Arrangements (ACAs).
You can see the terms of reference for the Inquiry here.
Our position, through discussions with your delegates is already clear – ACA’s must go. They are a product of a market failure in a market that should never have existed in the first place. They are ludicrously expensive and produce terrible short term outcomes for children in care without a long term solution. They even perversely incentivise NGO’s to not find community placements by providing a more lucrative revenue stream than a traditional placement.
The money wasted on ACAs can be redirected to better outcomes for children through better paid publicly-managed fosters care and more caseworkers to recruit, train, supervise and support them.
We cannot allow this Inquiry to be dominated by short-sighted advocacy of the NGO’s. The most powerful voice to counter their inevitable self-interested bleating is yours – the true subject experts who know all too well the shortcomings of the system in its current state.
The way you can be heard is through us – your Union. We can maintain your anonymity while also making sure the case studies you all have as examples of a failed system are heard and used to shape a better policy. We intend to make a submission to this Inquiry that provides your anecdotal accounts of ACAs in the hope this will guide the findings to end them.
Of particular interest to the Inquiry will be your observations regarding any of the following:
- How and why the child or young person ended up in an ACA;
- Who made the decision to place them in an ACA, how it was monitored and how it was ended;
- Your observations of the suitability of the ACA, what it offered in terms of both facilities and support;
- What impact the ACA had on the child or young person;
- The cost of the ACA;
- What could be done better as an alternative.
We are asking Community Services members to provide their experiences with redacted client names (provide ages and genders with an pseudonym if you require) to Submissions close to the Inquiry on 17 November 2023, so we are asking that input be provided to us by 31 October 2023. This will give us a window to follow up with you if necessary and write the submission.