Resi-care a symptom of society’s broken family views
A frustrated Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) Leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter will write to Queensland Child Safety Minister Craig Crawford, as well as the Parliament’s bipartisan Community Services and Safety Committee, calling for a sweeping inquiry into the State’s broken “resi-care” program.
Mr Katter said the move, which had been considered by the KAP for some time, was prompted by Minister Crawford’s comments last week that he was “toying with the idea” of convening organisations and industry experts to review the housing arrangement.
The Traeger MP said the time for child’s play was over, and implored the Minister to immediately order a Parliamentary inquiry that would be presided over by both government and non-government MPs.
“I appreciate Minister Crawford has just recently taken on this portfolio, and probably the state of affairs when it comes to resi-care should be laid squarely at the feet of his predecessor, however he is at the helm now,” Mr Katter said.
“Resi-care is a complete disaster, and is failing not only the kids unfortunate enough to be lumped in with the arrangement but also the workers who staff the programs and the broader community.
“Ask anyone, whether they be in Mount Isa, Cairns or Brisbane, no one wants to live near these centres which are essential half-way houses staffed by unfortunate souls who have no control over whether kids come or go, and indeed what they get up to when they do go.
“When these kids, many of whom are also circling through the criminal justice system, are out and about it is the community that inevitably suffers.”
Mr Katter said the abandonment of the program by the Churches of Christ charity, which until now has run 22 residential care houses across Queensland, showed the program was in crisis.
He said it was time resi-care was wrapped up, and alternative arrangements made for Queensland’s most vulnerable children.
“In the case of juvenile offenders who find themselves in resi-care, the KAP’s Relocation Sentencing policy which would detain and rehabilitate young criminals over a 6-24 month period in a remote location, would decrease housing demand,” he said.
“For vulnerable and at-risk kids, who through no fault of their own don’t have a safe home to live in or parents to care for them, they need to be provided a genuine alternative family unit – whether that is through foster or kinship caring, or perhaps even expanded avenues for adoption – needs to be decided by the relevant experts and authorities.”
Mr Katter said he was deeply alarmed by Minister Crawford’s comments to the Courier Mail that vulnerable kids aged older than 12 were “better suited to the (resi-care) system”.
“They’re not necessarily looking for a mother or father figure … so I think youth workers in the resi care houses works for them,” Mr Crawford told the Brisbane-based masthead.
Mr Katter said it was the KAP’s view that many of modern society’s issues, including the growing severity of youth crime, was due to the breakdown of the traditional family unit and perverse ideas that kids (including teens) “don’t need parents”.
“So much of what we are witnessing around us is a consequences of this bizarre, and misguided idea, that parents or parental figures are unimportant – we are doing the children of today the most disgraceful of disservices by proliferating this idea, irrespective of the motivations behind it,” he said.
Hinchinbrook MP and KAP Deputy Leader Nick Dametto said that a review into residential care services was well overdue and would undoubtably reveal the appalling circumstances of many children under the care of the State.
“More than 53 per cent of children in resi-care are hindered with a disability or developmental delay and resi-care does not provide the intensive support and social factors that kids with those sorts of challenges need if they are going to stand any chance at life.
“Despite the Child Safety Minister acknowledging that resi-care is not an ‘ideal’ environment for young children, I fear that this Government has become lazy and will rely on this failing system as a permanent solution regardless of the resulting dysfunction.
“An unfortunate example of why the Queensland Government should never rely on resi-care is the recent announcement that Churches of Christ will no longer run some of its services including 22 resi-care houses across the state.
“There will be a mad scramble to find homes or alternatives residences for the children in those facilities.
“We need to provide stable, secure and long-term solutions for these kids who sadly cannot live with their natural families.
“Not all kids in resi-care are criminals, but for those who are in the criminal justice system, Relocation Sentencing would be an ideal long-term option that would solve two problems in one.
“We’ll be officially launching KAP’s Relocation Sentencing Policy in the coming months and I hope the Premier and her Ministers give the policy the due consideration it deserves.”
Resi-care is a government-funded placement program for children aged 12-17 with complex needs, where care is provided by a team of rostered employees.
In 2022, almost 1,700 children (including some under the age of 12) were housed in resi-care centres.
The program is notoriously expensive, costing on average $420,000 per child per year.
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