New approach to child protection needed: report

Tuesday, 21 February 2017


A parent and family inclusive approach to child protection and foster care is urgently needed in Australia, a report to be launched today will recommend.

child protection

The research, conducted by the University of Newcastle, in partnership with the largest non-government provider of foster care services in Australia – Life Without Barriers, explored the views and perspectives of parents with children in care.

Lead researcher, Dr Nicola Ross of the University of Newcastle Law School, said there was strong evidence that children in care had better outcomes when they had good relationships with their parents.

“This research explored whether or not parents were supported by legal and support services to improve their parenting and remain part of their children’s lives,” Dr Ross said

The research found that parents in these situations experienced the removal of their children as very difficult. They reported feeling excluded from their children’s lives, even before the legal decision was made to permanently remove their children. Parents found the legal processes distressing and felt their voices were not heard. Some parents reported they did not know what was going on and had little say over the legal outcomes for their children.

One parent said, “Kids need their parents in their lives…one way or the other”.

Parents also reported not knowing what to do to have their children returned to their care and many expressed they had received little or no help to make changes.

Dr Ross said the research findings identified an urgent need for a parent and family inclusive approach to child protection and foster care within Australia.

“The overwhelming message from this research is that we need to respect, listen to, hear and include parents and families in our work if we want to ensure optimal outcomes for vulnerable children. Family inclusion increases the chance that children can be restored to their families and ensures, even when children don’t return home, that beneficial relationships with their parents and families are maintained.”

Life Without Barriers Chief Executive Claire Robbs said, “Parents of children in care need to be central to our work. This research has highlighted the importance of working in respectful partnerships with parents and in ensuring that all children leave care with strong family relationships in place.”

Download the full report: ‘No voice, no opinion, nothing’: Parent perspectives when children are removed and placed in care.