Too Hard Vulnerable Teens in Tasmania report cover illustration

Government says report reveals complex problems beyond the child protection system – Mercury, July 2017

Meg Webb News and Media, Young People

Read original article on Mercury website | Download the full Too Hard? report | Contact report author Dr Catherine Robinson: catheriner@anglicare-tas.org.au

DRUGS, crime and complex intergenerational social problems are to blame for issues raised in a new report on vulnerable children rather than any recent failings in child protection, the Government says.

Anglicare’s “Highly Vulnerable Teens in Tasmania” report, to be released today, calls for urgent intervention to end “a gross social injustice occurring in Tasmania”.

The report explores the lives of children aged between 10 and 17 who have fled abusive homes but who authorities find “too hard” to place in care.

The report found that, homeless and traumatised, they descend into mental illness, violence, drug use, poverty and crime.

The Liberals have blamed Labor for being soft on crime and drugs for the types of issues identified in the report, while the Opposition says the Liberals have had plenty of time to act to fix child protection.

Acting Human Services Minister Rene Hidding said the report posed a challenge for the government and the wider community.

“This is an intergenerational challenge … unless we step in harder then we are going to see ongoing issues here in Tasmania and we are better than this,” he said.

“A majority government is in a position to do what’s required to deal with the challenges of this report. We will continue to improve education and training for young people, we will continue to provide them with jobs, the dignity of an income, the hopes of home ownership … They also ought to be protected by a strong tough-on-crime stance by the government to ensure that these young people don’t have ice pushed at them.

“[Opposition leader] Rebecca White was part of a government that stood by and frankly did nothing at all – this report is essentially about a very long period of Labor government.”

Mr Hidding said the Government would look closely at the report’s recommendations.

He said the Liberals had put an extra $50 million into child protection, employed additional staff, commenced a redesign of the system and launched a new Youth at Risk Strategy.

Human Services Minister Jacquie Petrusma is on leave.

Opposition leader Rebecca White said the issues raised by Anglicare were too serious to be drawn into a political argument about who was tougher on crime.

“We are talking about very vulnerable children who are being let down by a system because it is under-resourced and the services they need to access simply aren’t there,” she said.

“We have a government that’s too busy playing politics and blaming somebody else rather than taking this issue seriously.”