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Statement by Chief Social Worker Paul Nixon regarding the death of Arun Kumar

04 June 2016.

First I need to acknowledge the grief of the family of Arun Kumar.

Child, Youth and Family (CYF) had open interventions with both boys accused of his manslaughter.

We accept we could have done more to support these boys.

CYF’s involvement in their lives began before they were even born.

They each grew up in environments where drug and alcohol use, criminal activity, family violence and anti-social behaviour impacted on their lives.

Our staff put a lot of time into trying to help these boys on a positive path.

But none of this excuses us from admitting that CYF could have done a better job.

There were a number of opportunities where a different approach might have led these boys to take a different path.

CYF’s child protection and youth justice teams should have communicated more clearly about the needs and risks for the boys and the actions required to address these.

My review of the care of these boys identified four themes:

  • Planned, integrated, comprehensive and well-informed assessment was absent for both boys.
  • Agencies tended to work in silos; collective action was missing.
  • The boys’ behaviour was not recognised as a risk of harm. The capacity of the caregivers to cope with the boys’ behaviour was also not considered. The effect of this was compounded by poor communication within CYF.
  • Proper supervision was not consistently available to the social workers working with these young people.

The review has made a series of recommendations to address the above concerns and create clearer and more robust and timely responses in assessment and decision making. These recommendations are under active consideration. Some are already in train as part of the transformation of CYF into a new child protection entity.

Why we have released a summary of the practice review

The Office of the Chief Social Worker conducts practice reviews of significant cases in order to ensure CYF can learn everything it can from such cases and improve its practice.

The review process relies on staff and other individuals who have worked with the young people and their families to provide free and frank information in an open and honest way so that social workers and supervisors can benefit from their experience.

It is for this reason that we do not release review reports in full.

Our reports also contain a lot of personal information about the lives of children and we need to keep this confidential.

However, recognising the public interest in some cases, we do produce summary reports containing key elements and recommendations of the reviews.

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