Family violence in kinship care in Victoria

Foster and kinship care
Thursday 26 July, 1110 – 1130

Presenters

Rachel Breman
Baptcare

Ann MacRae
Baptcare

Abstract
Kinship care refers to the care provided by relatives or close members of the child’s social network when the child is unable to live at home with his/her parents; it is the preferred placement option within the Australian child protection system. In Victoria, kinship care placements (54.9%) exceed foster care placements (49.1%) and these numbers continue to rise.

Kinship carers experience more vulnerability than foster carers, including older age and greater poverty, health issues and greater likelihood of being sole carers). The close relationship between kinship carers and the child’s parents adds another level of complexity, given the impact of mental illness, family violence and parental substance abuse on family relationships.

Little is known about family violence in kinship care that is perpetrated by a close family member of the child in care (usually the child’s mother/father) against the carer(s) and children once the placement has started. In this context, family violence includes any act of physical violence, emotional/psychological violence and property damage.
Baptcare has undertaken this research to gain a better understanding of how family violence was impacting children and families in kinship care in Victoria.

This paper will present the key findings based on 101 Victorian kinship carers who responded to an online survey and qualitative interviews—providing the first insights into the types and impact of family violence experienced by kinship carers and the children in their care. Further, Baptcare’s response to addressing the report recommendations will be explored.