The Nationals Melina Bath, Member for Eastern Victoria Region has today tabled a petition in parliament requesting the Andrews Labor Government conduct an immediate review into the practices and decisions regarding Gippsland children in out of home care. Out of home carers can be either foster or kinship carers.
Speaking in Parliament today Ms Bath has asked the Andrews Labor Government for improved communication between the department, agencies and out of home carers in relation to decisions to remove children from carer arrangements, outstanding carer payments and the provision of critical information such as access to a child’s medical history.
“Gippsland’s out of home care volunteers become the mainstay of a vulnerable child, and in effect they allow the child’s life to return to a sense of normal,” said Ms Bath.
“An important factor in providing home-based care for vulnerable children is to be able to provide that safe and nurturing environment. In order to achieve this it is essential that out of home carers are communicated with and supported themselves. The system must facilitate the provision of the best possible care for the child.
“Unfortunately many Gippsland carers feel highly frustrated with restricted communication and less than ideal support currently provided by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
“This petition calls for a review into Department of Health and Human Services practices to ensure Gippsland’s out of home carers are adequately supported.
“It is simply unacceptable that out of home carers are not provided with critical information such as the medical history of a child they are responsible for. This situation creates a greater stress on a vulnerable child who is already experiencing upheaval and pressures in their young life.
“I have personally spoken to out of home carers who in addition to a lack of information are also experiencing gross inconsistencies in their carer payments from the DHHS.
“While carers are not motivated by the reimbursements and allowances they receive, the department should remit funds due in a timely manner. I have many examples of foster carers who have not received any payment for well over six months from DHHS.
“All of these people tell me that they do not do it for the money, but we need to value our Gippsland carers. They deserve respect and I ask Daniel Andrews to guarantee that these people will be paid on a monthly basis rather than having to go cap in hand to actually receive some return for their services.”