Thursday, 25 May 2023
It is no surprise to kinship carers that once again the acute needs and wounds they are afflicted with have been dressed with a few flimsy band aides. Not surprising because kinship carers are used to the neglect and abuse – but oh so distressing, and confirmation about the priorities of government and the near-contempt government demonstrates towards kinship carers.
It is not reasonable to expect kinship carers to be prepared to take their share of the pain attached to the dire financial circumstances they find themselves in. Kinship carers are amongst the poorest families in the state, so asking them to take their share of pain is out of all proportion and is inhumane.
Nearly 75% of children in out-of-home-care are being raised by kinship carers. If children must be removed from the care of their parents, placing them with other family members (kinship care) is the ideal solution for the extended family – and most definitely for the children concerned.
Kinship carers are performing miracles as they turn children away from a pathway leading to truncated life options to pathways leading to fulfilling lives where their aspirations can be met and they can become citizens of whom Victoria can be proud. Despite this level of productivity, which is far better than the outcomes of any government program we can think of, kinship carers are not compensated for the costs they incur, let alone being rewarded for achieving every performance measure that could be dreamt up and placed against them.
There are a few strategies affecting kinship carers worth mentioning. Each of them conjures a picture, not of treasury officials worrying and searching for ways to support kinship carers, but of dffh searching through every cupboard and draw to find every bit of loose change they can scrape together to give kinship carers some cursory emergency first aide. It’s something at least, but not nearly enough!
So, what do kinship carers actually gain out of the budget?
These programs are welcome but do not enable kinship families in general to lift themselves out of poverty. If these programs were accompanied by an increase in their general entitlements, there would be some hope for them. Where is the increase to the basic financial support for kinship carers that has been requested year in and year out?
Given that the other political parties in Victoria have not demonstrated any deeper compassion for kinship carers, we are left to wonder where to from here? Beyond the daily torment of making ends meet, should kinship carers start to demonstrate to the world the ways in which Victoria breaches children’s rights as outlined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child – of which Australia is a signatory?
Anne L McLeish OAM
0499 969 234
A statement from Anne McLeish, Director Kinship Carers Victoria
Wednesday, 19 April 2023
As we approach each and every budget, vulnerable families, particularly kinship families, hope against all hope that this will be the budget that brings them some relief. They have always been disappointed.
Kinship families provide well over 70% of the care for children who are removed from their parents. The outcomes for children raised by their near kin, most often their grandparents, are astounding. So many of them carry emotional burdens as well as mental or physical disabilities, and yet these children are raised to have high expectations and to get on with life.
Kinship families not only work miracles for individual children. Kinship carers keep children out of institutions and raise them in ways that help them become productive citizens, of whom Victoria can be proud. Thus, kinship carers make an invaluable contribution to the health and wellbeing of our state as well as to the health and wellbeing of their own families.
Despite the outcomes of their tireless work, kinship carers have been constantly ignored in state budgets. Submissions from the community and from government departments calling for urgent increases to the payments awarded to kinship carers have been met with stony silence.
The disdain for calls to increase funds available to cover the costs of raising children with multiple health needs has been particularly cruel. Let us hope that in the next budget, despite the likelihood of it being a tough one, there is some relief for kinship care families.
Also, of critical importance is the need for a well-resourced and trained child protection service, one that works in partnership with the kinship carers to ensure that our children are all safe and supported. Cuts to child protection services in recent years have caused kinship carers to feel abandoned by government, the community and, indeed, every voter who, in effect, allows government to render child protection of little importance. The incidence of carers not being able to reach anyone, even when an urgent medical matter arises, is rapidly increasing. It is not possible to reach someone when there is no one there!
All evidence, including successive years of neglect as well as recent utterances about the severity of this forthcoming budget, points to the likelihood that kinship families and child protection in general will pay an inordinate price. Are we going to be forced to hold street stalls and sell tea towels to raise the funds to support our most vulnerable families and children?
Kinship Carers Victoria
(03) 9372 2422