Major social service organisations have called on the Parliament to show leadership on South Australia’s growing child protection crisis.

AnglicareSA and Uniting Communities have today challenged the incoming government to tackle the economic and community costs of our broken child protection system.

Child protection advocate Belinda Valentine, grandmother of Chloe Valentine, said that families must be empowered to safely parent their children.

“If at-risk families are empowered to care for their children well and keep them safe then it will lead to stronger families and communities,” she said.

“Working with families means better outcomes, rather than trying to repair the situation long after the damage is done. So much of the pain and suffering we have seen in recent years can and should be prevented. Helping families come together means better futures for our young people,” she said.

Uniting Communities Chief Executive, Simon Schrapel, said that the state election represented a unique opportunity for leadership on the issue of child protection.

“Our current process of placing children into state care, at twice the national average, is simply unsustainable,” he said.

“What we have set out today is a solution to a very serious issue in this state. It must be the priority of any government to get child protection right,” AnglicareSA Chief Executive Officer, Peter Sandeman, said that by reducing the number of children entering care, through intensive support and preventative services, it will reduce the burden on the Department for Child Protection.

“If we can work with at-risk families at the outset, and keep them out of the system, it will allow an overwhelmed department to focus on the most severe of child protection cases.

“Economically, it will come as a huge relief for the budget bottom line. However, more importantly, it will mean better outcomes for those children and families who are really struggling.”

Key statistics:

  • The number of children in out of home care in South Australia has increased 98% in the past 10 years.
  • South Australian’s rate of children entering care is double the national average.
  • The number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children has risen by 151% over the same period.
  • Our expenditure in South Australia on Child Protection and Care Services has risen from $218.7m in 2011/12 to over $510m in 2016/17 – 133% in just 5 years!

Read more: A Better Future for Children and Families