Family-based carers in South Australia will now have a dedicated platform to support ongoing reform of the child protection system through the establishment of a new Carer Council – a key recommendation from Dr Fiona Arney’s Independent Inquiry into Foster and Kinship Care.

The State Government has engaged Connecting Foster and Kinship Carers SA – the peak advocacy body for family-based carers in SA – to establish and provide ongoing support to the Carer Council, which will meet at least three times annually to discuss key issues.

The Carer Council will consist of a minimum of 12 current carers appointed by the Minister for Child Protection. To ensure true representation, kinship and foster carers from both metropolitan and regional areas will form the membership. Aboriginal carers will also be appointed to the council.

Working as part of broader governance and engagement mechanisms, including the recently established Child Protection Expert Group, the Council will contribute to the creation of a long-term vision for the system, ensuring that the voices of carers are central to reform.

The establishment of the Carer Council was recommended by Dr Fiona Arney as a key step to improve consultation between carers and the Department for Child Protection, non-government providers and other agencies with an interest in foster and kinship care.

The Council will report on its work and advocacy.

Quotes attributable to Katrine Hildyard, Minister for Child Protection

Carers play a critical role in the child protection system, providing loving, safe and nurturing homes for children and young people in care.

I am deeply grateful to the thousands of carers who open their hearts, homes and lives to children and young people, and I am steadfastly committed to listening to them. We have much to learn from their experiences and wisdom.

Dr Fiona Arney’s report recommended the need for strong and genuine consultation with carers, recognising their key role in a child or young person’s care team. The establishment of the Council directly responds to her recommendation.

I look forward to working alongside Connecting Foster and Kinship Carers SA, whom I thank for their stewardship of this important body, and members of the Carer Council, and to hearing directly from them about how we can strengthen and improve the child protection system for children, young people, families and carers.

Quotes attributable to Fiona Endacott, CEO, Connecting Foster & Kinship Carers SA

Administering the new Carer Council aligns with our mission to ensure the voice of carers is heard and their rights upheld, and gives carers another seat at the table to collaborate with policymakers to affect real and lasting change.

The Arney inquiry raised key issues about foster and kinship care and these need to be explored more deeply to provide clear advice that can inform policy and decision making and the legislative reform agenda.

We are committed to ensuring that the conversations and deliberations of the Council yield constructive advice for the Minister to consider.