A harrowing report by Victoria’s Commission for Children and Young People reveals that 35 children took their own lives between April 2007 and April 2019 despite regular contact with child protection workers, The Age reports.
“It is devastating and enraging to think in 2019 or any time in the last decade we have continued to let children down so badly,” Commissioner for Children and Young People Liana Buchanan said.
All of these children, aged between 12 and 17, had been in contact with a child protection worker – at an average of seven times – before they killed themselves. But in 90 per cent of cases, there was no follow-up.
Shocking details of family violence, drug abuse, sexual abuse and extreme neglect are outlined in the report, which states that “most of the children came from families where trauma was entrenched and compounded by the ‘toxic trifecta’ of family violence, parental mental illness and substance abuse issues”.
One teen wrote to their child protection worker begging to be rescued from a mother who had stabbed herself with a kitchen knife.
The 15-year-old died by suicide two weeks after Child Protection closed the case.
Child protection lodged a total of 229 reports related to the children, of which 78 were closed immediately and others were lost in a resource-stretched and poorly organised system of referrals.
“Despite repeated interactions with the child protection system, the risk to these children and young people was left to escalate as they fell into the gaps between services,” Ms Buchanan said.