CHILD ABUSE

By Lauren Henry
Updated November 6 2012 - 4:14pm, first published October 22 2010 - 12:06am

THE Loddon Mallee region has had a large number of child protection cases reopened because of neglect or abuse.Between January 2008 and March 2010, the Department of Human Services closed 58 cases of children who were at risk in the Loddon Mallee, only to have neglect or abuse proved within three months. This was the highest regional number in Victoria.Freedom of information doc­u­­ments have revealed that 408 cases of abuse and neglect in Victoria were later substantiated.The documents also revealed that 21 per cent of Loddon Mallee child protection workers walked away from their jobs in 2009.The revelations come after a central Victorian grandmother told of her three grandchildren being returned to the care of their drug addict mother because of an administrative error.State Coalition community services spokeswoman Mary Wooldridge said the system of child protec­tion was overworked and under-res­ourced, with the result that assessment and decision making were compromised.“The system is in crisis, and the victims are children and young people who rely on the government for their safety.’’Community Services Minister Lisa Neville said child-protection workers substantiated about 12,000 reports of abuse against children across Victoria in the two-year period.“The latest annual report shows that for this performance measure DHS was well under target, which is for this to occur in less than 5 per cent of cases,’’ she said.“In 2008-09 it occurred in less than 2.62 per cent of cases.’’Ms Neville said that in all 408 cases child-protection workers took action as soon as new allegations or new evidence became available.

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