Fired-up La­bor has ScoMo in its sights

Sunday Mail - - NEWS - ANNIKA SMETHURST LAUREN NO­VAK

PRIME Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son is among seven se­nior Gov­ern­ment MPs who La­bor will tar­get for al­legedly mis­lead­ing Par­lia­ment by pledg­ing sup­port for dumped leader Mal­colm Turnbull, when Par­lia­ment re­sumes to­mor­row.

La­bor was ex­pected to vote with Greens MP Adam Bandt in a mo­tion of no-con­fi­dence against Home Af­fairs Min­is­ter Peter Dut­ton over ac­cu­sa­tions he mis­led Par­lia­ment in the for­eign nanny scan­dal.

But the Op­po­si­tion is now ex­pected to cause fur­ther chaos, with Tony Burke, La­bor’s chief strate­gist in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, con­firm­ing La­bor will ex­pand its at­tack to ev­ery front­bench MP who backed Mr Turnbull in Par­lia­ment, 48 hours be­fore he was dumped as PM.

“This is the first time I can re­mem­ber that there are po­ten­tially seven min­is­ters who may have mis­led Par­lia­ment,” Mr Burke said.

“Scott Mor­ri­son de­clared sup­port for the Prime Min­is­ter and it has to be asked whether or not he mis­led the Par­lia­ment now there has been a se­ries of claims that he had been ac­tive all along.”

The lead­er­ship scan­dal and bul­ly­ing claims are set to dom­i­nate the sit­ting week after fresh al­le­ga­tions emerged about the stan­dover tac­tics em­ployed by some con­ser­va­tive MPs as they tried to build num­bers for Mr Dut­ton ahead of his failed coup. AL­MOST half of at-risk chil­dren liv­ing in homes run by the State Gov­ern­ment don’t need to be there and should be placed with fam­i­lies, an au­dit has found.

But a short­age of will­ing foster car­ers means there are not enough ready homes.

The au­dit – done be­tween April and June – found that, of 453 chil­dren liv­ing in state-run homes, 240 were in the right place be­cause they needed spe­cial­ist care for dis­abil­i­ties, trauma, or com­plex be­hav­iours or needs.

But 213, or 47 per cent, were iden­ti­fied as chil­dren who did not need the su­per­vi­sion of trained, paid car­ers and would be bet­ter off liv­ing with a foster fam­ily.

The Child Pro­tec­tion Depart­ment has strug­gled in re­cent years to en­cour­age more ex­tended fam­ily mem­bers or gen­er­ous strangers to take in vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren.

This means it is forced to pay more than $670,000 a year to house a child in a state-run home, com­pared with $48,000 to a foster fam­ily.

Child Pro­tec­tion Min­is­ter Rachel San­der­son promised the au­dit ahead of the March state elec­tion.

“Of­ten the ex­cuse is given that chil­dren are in res­i­den­tial care be­cause their be­hav­iours are so dif­fi­cult that they can’t be placed with fam­i­lies,” she told The Ad­ver­tiser shortly after be­com­ing a min­is­ter.

“That’s true for some chil­dren but I don’t be­lieve that (about 450) chil­dren could pos­si­bly all need to be in res­i­den­tial care.”

She has ac­knowl­edged that many car­ers have felt let down by the depart­ment, rais­ing con­cerns about “a lack of re­spect, the way they’re treated (and) a lack of in­for­ma­tion about the child in their care”.

Re­veal­ing the re­sults of the au­dit, Ms San­der­son said liv­ing with foster par­ents “gives the child a sense of fam­ily”.

Depart­ment chief ex­ec­u­tive Cathy Tay­lor said the gov­ern­ment was con­duct­ing re­search and work­ing on “aware­ness cam­paigns, im­prov­ing re­la­tion­ships with our cur­rent foster par­ents, and re­mov­ing red tape so foster par­ents can get on with the day-to-day care of our chil­dren”.

“We know it is im­por­tant to match chil­dren to a place­ment that best meets their in­di­vid­ual needs,” she said.

Rachel Tit­ley has pre­vi­ously been a foster carer and en­cour­aged oth­ers to con­sider tak­ing a child into their home.

The 38-year-old, who has two bi­o­log­i­cal daugh­ters, said the op­por­tu­nity for chil­dren to live with a fam­ily where they feel they be­long “heals the brain dam­age from abuse, trauma and ne­glect and en­ables kids to thrive, get an ed­u­ca­tion and jour­ney through life”.

“When you take some­body in as part of your fam­ily you’re much more in­vested in that child,” she said.

“There’s a level of love and care that is just not there when it comes to shift work­ers that have a heap of du­ties to do.”

There are cur­rently 3672 chil­dren in state care, in­clud­ing 412 liv­ing in state-run homes, 86 in emer­gency hous­ing, 1664 with ex­tended fam­ily and 1434 with foster par­ents.

Pic­ture: TOM HUNTLEY

LOV­ING EN­VI­RON­MENT: Rachel Tit­ley says giv­ing chil­dren the op­por­tu­nity to live with a fam­ily can help them heal.

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