Victoria - An Ombudsman's report, released yesterday, has rocked the Brumby government just six months out from the election. The report released indicated that the state has failed to protect some of the foster children in its care
Children were reported to have had limbs broken or were knocked unconscious by residential carers, and some were physically assaulted or raped by other minors.
The report also contains accounts of children in care being sexually exploited and resorting to prostitution, and of carers selling drugs to children.
In yesterday's report on out-of-home care - which includes foster care, residential care and ''kinship'' care with relatives - Ombudsman George Brouwer said the state failed to detect that some carers were a risk to children.
He said that further harm to a number of them may have been prevented if adequate screening and assessment of their carers had been taken.
But he emphasised that most carers did not mistreat children, and that Victoria spent more on out-of-home care than many other states.
The government will accept all but one of the recommendations. Community Services Minister Lisa Neville said in 22 cases raised by the Ombudsman, 10 children had been removed from carers and in eight cases carers had been deregistered or sacked. All allegations of abuse had been referred to the police when they came to light.
She said the government had spent an extra $183 million in the past two budgets on the system, and announced yesterday another $4 million to support carers with children's education expenses.
The Ombudsman also highlighted concerns about the system's capacity to meet demand. He said there may be 193 children requiring care that the department could not provide places for. ''It is unlikely that the department will be able to meet expected demands in either the short or the long term.'' But Ms Neville said any child in need of care always received it.
Other issues that the Ombudsman highlighted were:
? Payment to carers was significantly low.
? Children were being placed in ''undesirable'' situations, including with children who have previously sexually abused.
? The Child Safety Commissioner does not have enough independence.
? Guidelines on how to deal with allegations of abuse remained in draft form from 2007 and were finalised only this year. Child Safety Commissioner Bernie Geary said it had taken an ''unforgivable'' length of time to finalise them.