Date: 18 September 2016
Source: The Daily Telegraph
Vulnerable foster children were placed in homes with carers who had serious criminal records, including rape, assault and drugs charges, with the full knowledge of the state government.
The Sunday Telegraph has obtained a leaked 2010 internal report that raises concerns with senior management in Family and Community Services (FACS) about five carers with serious criminal records.
One foster carer on the mid-north coast had an 18-page record, including two convictions for rape, three for assault, five for stealing, four for domestic violence and one of malicious wounding. The carer had done significant jail time.
The carer and his wife were paid $128,000 in foster payments each year to care for 10 children from 2005 onwards.
The report has surfaced as the NSW Upper House inquiry into the role of FACS and non-government organisations in protecting young people at risk of harm, has uncovered cases of children being raped by carers who had not had background checks.
The report written by a manager raises concerns about five carers who have criminal or child protection records.
The carers include one who served six years for rape and is now looking after 10 children and one looking after five children, with six other children in a household and “an extensive criminal history, not to mention departmental records of neglect of her own children”.
It is understood the report was again raised in 2013 with FACS chief Maree Walk, director-general Michael Coutts-Trotter and then minister Pru Goward.
Child protection expert Professor Chris Goddard from the Australian Childhood Foundation and a former child protection worker said the report was “horrifying” and an “indictment on the state”.
A case worker also said political correctness had hampered action because the carers were Aboriginal, caring for Aboriginal children.
A spokesman for FACS said the foster carer with the 18-page criminal history still had the children in his care and had his working with children check assessed by the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal in 2014 who found “he does not pose a risk to the safety of children.”
The spokesman said the foster carer had “reformed” and that the children were his grandchildren.
“FACS has not received any risk-of-significant-harm reports in relation to the children in this person’s care,” he said.