The South Australian Child Protection Systems Royal Commission Report, The life they deserve, was released in early August 2016. The report is presented in two volumes. The first volume sets out what the Royal Commission did to examine the adequacy of current laws and policies to protect children and young people, system deficits and 260 recommendations addressing a wide range of structural, system and practice aspects across the SA government and service system. The second volume contains 5 case studies that examine the operation of the system and practice quality in specific areas. Four focus on the individual circumstances of young children, intervening in high risk families, leaving care, and children with complex needs in out of home care. The fifth case study is about keeping children safe in their environment and examines the circumstances of a key driver for the inquiry. Observations made in the case studies underpin the inquiry’s recommendations. For example, the case study about the high risk family highlights worker’s training, support and supervision to help parents with multiple, complex problems; permanency planning and stability to avoid drift in care; and a broad understanding of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle to support children’s connections to family, culture and community.
Papers prepared for the Royal Commission are also available. These address topical issues in many jurisdictions and include what makes a good childhood stressing that children are active participants in their own development and the importance of addressing socio-economic inequalities early in life and intervening early enough; the effectiveness of income management in Australia, which found there is no conclusive evidence that income management improves financial vulnerability and outcomes for children and families; secure care models for young people at risk of harm, which provides a review of the evidence and practice regarding therapeutic use of secure care within the child protection system; and what children say about child protection and out of home care, which reports on a consultation session with children and young people who talked about being treated fairly and respectfully, acknowledging culture, being and feeling safe, and having the system work for them.
The findings and recommendations are not dissimilar to those of other Australian child protection inquiries. The final recommendation sets out the timeframes for the SA Government to state the response to each recommendation and subsequent periodic, public reporting about the implementation of responses to recommendations.