Sharing a statement from The Hon. Katrine Hildyard MP regarding the Inquiry into Foster & Kinship Care
STATEMENT REGARDING FOSTER AND KINSHIP CARE INQUIRY
I am committed to ensuring the voices of carers are heard and that the role you play is valued.
I acknowledge that there have been concerns expressed about the Inquiry into Foster and Kinship Care (the Inquiry), established under section 169A of the Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017 which was inserted by a Parliamentary amendment in 2021.
Section 169A contains specific requirements for the Inquiry including requiring independence from the Department for Child Protection as well as Government. It sets out timeframes for the Inquiry to commence and be completed, as well as requiring that the Inquiry’s Report be laid before Parliament. Decisions about the appointment of Inquirer and resourcing of the Inquiry were made by the former Government at the time of establishing the Inquiry.
Following my appointment as Minister for Child Protection, I have observed that it appears that resourcing for the Inquiry was inadequate.
I have sought advice about what is appropriate for me, as Minister, to do in relation to the Inquiry, given it is an independent Inquiry. I have been advised that as the incoming Minister, I am unable to adjust the structure or scope of the Inquiry. This has limited my capacity to address the concerns that have been raised about the Inquiry.
Dr Fiona Arney has, however, advised that the timeframe for submissions has been extended to 17 May 2022. I understand the extension will be communicated by Dr Arney.
As set out in the legislation, I will table the report I receive from Dr Arney. As committed to when in Opposition, I will then look at the need for further action and/or a review of the recommendations.
The voice of carers is vital. I am committed to directly hearing from foster and kinship carers and will organise forums with foster and kinship carers; this will happen regardless of the recommendations of the Inquiry because hearing from you matters. I will ensure these forums are held regularly and in regional locations and that these begin as soon as possible.
Thank you to every carer who gives their time, energy, love and care to South Australian children. You make a difference, your efforts are greatly appreciated and hearing from you is crucial as we work to strengthen the South Australian child protection system so that children are enabled to mentally, emotionally and physically thrive.