Evidence from Foster Carers
Foster carers reported:
…the department can (and does) do such things with impunity…the rotten culture of power without
accountability is endemic…we…started out merely wanting to do something to help others and have
ended up with such devastation and pain and such harm to two innocents…the full weight of the
department converged on us: simply because we believed (passionately, it is true) that the children
needed more help than we could give and we believed it was the department’s responsibility to provide
…foster carers are bullied into providing nothing more than a motel service for the State. There can be
no meaningful family life when a family knows not, from one day to the next, what its members will be
required by the State to “agree” to. The Minister need look no further for clues as to why this State has
lost two-thirds of its foster carers in the past couple of years…and is still losing them.
36One foster mother who cared for a young child who was a ward of the state described his unannounced
removal by the Department:
They went to school at lunch-time and took him away. I didn’t get to say goodbye…I cannot make sense
of this and do not understand why we are being treated this way.
She asserted that assistance and support from different District Offices and different workers varied
Families SA have no accountability and each individual that you deal with has a different set of rules
and the goal posts keep shifting.
37Regarding some staff, another carer stated:
With [worker] from [District Office] we cannot have a say in matters affecting us…We feel as though
we are treated as volunteers of no account…
38Yet others, describing experiences with the Department stated:
They appear to not wish for anyone else to have any view or opinion or rights to any decisions.
The department can do anything because it is the guardian of the children, and there is no mechanism in
place for it to be accountable. It has the ultimate power. It uses the court by saying, ‘We have a court
order that says that we can do this. Fight the court; go ahead, make my day.’
Another carer claimed that a social worker’s unprofessional behaviour had serious consequences for
one state ward and the state and Departmental lawyers colluded so that important relevant evidence
was omitted from a coronial inquiry. The carer stated:
…it was not in the states interest to have a finding of negligence on the part of the Department.