When a failure in child protection makes the news, it’s always gut-churning stuff. The case of a 12-year-old Tasmanian girl prostituted by her mother and her mother’s boyfriend is no exception. The political reaction to the release of a report by the Tasmanian Children’s Commissioner, and the government’s response to the report, has predictably centered on whether the Tasmanian Children’s Minister should resign or be sacked.
Whether that happens or not, the report makes a considerable number of recommendations, though it is striking that the government has “supported with qualifications” (some of the qualifications are large enough to constitute virtual rejection) or outright rejected a rather high proportion of them. I lack the expertise and background knowledge to understand, let alone sensibly comment on most, but there were several recommendation (that were “supported with qualifications”) that did strike me as having broad implications. One in particular related to income management:
THAT the Tasmanian Government as a matter of urgency commence negotiations with the Commonwealth Government through FAHCSIA and CENTRELINK for voluntary income management for families referred to Gateway which Gateway assess as likely to benefit and involuntary income management for families with children under a Voluntary Care Agreement, requirement or orders assessed by Child Protection Services as likely to increase the level of child protection.
Due to the desire to protect the child (and her siblings’) privacy, there is virtually no additional information provided in the publicly-released version of the report to explain or justify the recommendation. But it’s interesting, nonetheless, that the Commissioner would explicitly call for the introduction of income management for some families.