These are Australia’s most vulnerable kids, betrayed and neglected, not only by their parents but by the system designed to protect them.
“I walked in there and I just thought ‘wow’. I didn’t even know kids lived like this. I just couldn’t believe this was happening in Australia.” - Child Protection Worker
“They’re told, ‘you’re in resi because nobody wants you, we can’t find a home for you, we can’t find a foster family for you.’ I couldn’t imagine being told, ‘you’re so bad that we can’t place you anywhere, this is where you have to live now.’” - Child Protection Worker
They’re known as ‘resi kids’ after the group homes they live in, run by private operators and charities. Some were taken into care as babies, others after years of abuse. They’re often difficult to manage but desperately in need of help.
In this searing Four Corners investigation, we reveal that rather than protecting and nurturing these children, some private operators are treating them as badly as the families they escaped.
“What I can’t wrap my head around is why children are removed because they’re neglected only to end up being a teenager in a resi house still neglected.” - Child Protection Worker
It’s prompted some in the child protection system to brand their treatment a national failure and call for the entire resi care system to be shut down.
“Everybody who might watch Four Corners has to understand that they are our children. We have a responsibility to them.” - Former Children’s Commissioner
Broken Homes, reported by Linton Besser and presented by Sarah Ferguson, goes to air on Monday November 14 at 8.30pm on ABC & iview.
This investigation, nearly three months in the making, continues online in a special digital feature with further revelations of systemic failings, which will be published on ABC News Digital (abc.net.au/news) at 8.30pm AEDT on Monday November 14.
A replay of the program will take place on Tuesday November 16 at 10.00am and Wednesday November 17 at 11pm. It can also be seen on ABC News 24 on Saturday November 19 at 8.00pm AEDT, ABC iview and at abc.net.au/4corners.