Fears Toowoomba children are being abandoned in residential group homes

Hope for Our Children founder Nadine Wright is raising awareness of the plight of children suffering in residential foster care in the Toowoomba region.

Residential care facilities are group-based houses or units which are the last resort for children who cannot be placed with foster families. They are staffed by shift youth workers.

Damning reports into the residential care system in Queensland and Australia have uncovered cases of sexual exploitation of children by adults, recruitment into prostitution, violence and crime. 

Member for Toowoomba South David Janetzki MP said the cost of housing 145 children in residential care in the south west region was a staggering $326,000 per child, per year.

“These are some of the most vulnerable children in our community and we need to be providing them a pathway out of the child safety system instead of sticking them in a group home with little attention,” Mr Janetzki said.

“Tragically, many of these children do not go to school and do not receive the love and care a child needs to survive and thrive,” he said. 

Mrs Wright said residential care was the resurrection of institutionalised care which the government outlawed decades age because of the damage it caused children.

“It is not very closely supervised and it is hard to supervise because kids can self-place once they turn 12. A 12-year-old can choose to live with someone else – anyone else – and just leave as long as they make contact with the department to let them know they are alive and eating,” she said. 

Mrs Wright said the number of children entering residential care had increased because the Department of Child Safety takes too long to remove children from dangerous homes and their suffering is prolonged. 

“Sadly, these children come into foster care very violent, very hurt and very broken because they are being removed too late,” she said. 

“Often they have post-traumatic stress disorder and many other attachment issues which leaves them unable to form relationships. 

“The department puts them in a home with a foster family and that relationship breaks down because these children do not know how to interact, how to live, how to be safe and how to not threaten people.” 

Mrs Wright said she would continue lobbying and working with members of government and the community in hopes to eventually close down residential care facilities.

Media Contacts:

David Janetzki MP 0417 644 597  

Lacey Maguire (07) 4602 3100