GIPPSLAND foster and kinship carers are calling for better access to specialist care for traumatised children in their charge, according to Nationals MP Melina Bath.
The findings of the recently released report, ‘Strong Carers, Stronger Children – Victorian Carers Strategy’s Findings of the Home-based carer census’, to the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing, identified the need for better access to mental health care services for children placed in out of home care.
The report stated of the children entering Victoria’s out of home care system, 70 per cent had a history of trauma, 56 per cent had behavioural issues, 44 per cent had attachment issues and 40 per cent had identified mental health difficulties.
It also found a third of carers ended their caring arrangement due to behavioural and mental health issues, including anger and violent behaviours of the child.
Highlighting the issue in state parliament, The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath has called for better mental health services for children placed in out of home care.
Advocating on behalf of Gippsland-based charity, A Better Life for Foster Kids, Ms Bath said many children enter the out of home care system carrying significant trauma.
“The very fact that a child is placed in out of home care with a foster or kinship carer is evidence of a traumatic and dysfunctional history,” Ms Bath said.
“Entering the system, a child is required to be assessed by a doctor, a dentist and an optometrist, but not a mental health counsellor.
“It is essential children have the opportunity to tell their story and receive trauma-based counselling, including an individualised mental health plan when required.”
In a recent survey of local carers undertaken by A Better Life for Foster Kids, more than half said they had experienced difficulties in obtaining permission to access mental health supports for children in their care.
Ms Bath said the state government must prioritise the mental wellbeing of Victoria’s most vulnerable children.
If you need support, talk to a GP or health professional. Support services include SANE Australia on 1800 18 SANE (7263) or sane.org; Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36 or beyondblue.org.au and Lifeline on 13 11 14 or lifeline.org.au.