Ward files uncovered in Ombudsman study
VIC PS News
15th March 2012
The Victorian Ombudsman has reported on his investigation into the management and storage of ward records by the Department of Human Services.
In his report Own motion investigation into the management and storage of ward records by the Department of Human Services, the Ombudsman George Brouwer said numerous reports over the last 15 years had documented the harm caused to many children held in care and had highlighted the need for former them to have access to their records for emotional, medical, psychological, financial or legal reasons.
“In some instances, the existence of such records are the only means by which a former ward can reconnect with a sibling or parent from whom they were separated at childhood,” Mr Brouwer said.
He said he launched the ‘own motion’ investigation in July last year after receiving information from an anonymous source that claimed there were a number of boxes containing records relating to former wards being held by the Department in storage.
He said his investigation found the Department was holding around 80 linear kilometres of historical records in storage but had not inspected or indexed a considerable portion of them.
“My investigation identified one example where a collection that had been in the Department’s archives since 1990 had only recently been identified as containing numerous references to former wards.
“This collection of 48 boxes, which was thought to have contained only administration files, had been marked for destruction.”
Mr Brouwer recommended the Department take immediate action to ensure that it had a thorough understanding of the records it held in its collection.
He said this was needed to assure former wards that they had been provided with all the available information regarding the often traumatic chapter of their lives.