Premier Ted Baillieu today launched the inquiry Protecting Victoria's Vulnerable Children to comprehensively investigate systemic problems in Victoria's child protection system and make recommendations to strengthen and improve the protection and support of vulnerable young Victorians.
The highly distinguished review panel, chaired by the Hon Philip Cummins, together with Professor Dorothy Scott and Mr Bill Scales, will investigate how to reduce child abuse and strengthen the protection of Victorian children who are at risk of, or who have experienced, neglect and/or abuse.
"Thousands of vulnerable, at-risk children were neglected by the previous Labor Government and its legacy is a child protection system in crisis," Mr Baillieu said.
"We have a duty of care to protect our most vulnerable – to ensure they are safe from harm – and we are establishing this inquiry to identify the system's weaknesses and provide practical recommendations to develop a strong support system for those in need."
Minister for Community Services Mary Wooldridge said the inquiry will widely seek submissions, including from families and children who have been part of the child protection and out-of-home care system, to listen to their experiences and suggestions for improvement.
"The inquiry has broad terms of reference and will involve extensive consultation across the Victorian community," Ms Wooldridge said. "To make long-term, meaningful improvements to the way we support children and families, we need to fully understand the range of complex issues influencing the system – what's not working and what we need to do to address them."
The inquiry will be supported by the Department of Premier and Cabinet and will provide a report with recommendations to the Minister for Community Services by 4 November 2011. The report will be tabled in Parliament.
Attached: Terms of Reference and biographies of the panel members