Young people in the ACT were also among the least likely in the country to be consulted about a move, and the least likely to be returned to their birth parents.
ACT survey respondents recorded the lowest mean happiness – where zero represented very unhappy and 100 very happy – with a score of 50.
NSW had the highest mean happiness rating of about 75.
ACT children were among the most likely to be living in their home for less than one year and were the least likely to feel safe and secure in their placement.
A recent roundtable – organised by the Community Services Directorate – saw 11 young people in care air their frustrations with the system and state a desire for their voices to be heard.
“This system is so currently absurd, that I feel I can’t adequately convey just how angry the things I’ve heard this morning have made me feel,” a young person said at the roundtable.
“The same problems are still endemic.
“A lack of empathy, a lack of proper mental health training, and a near constant lack of continuity in case workers. I know most of the people in Child and Youth Protection Services, and in the system broadly, want to make a difference
“I am pleading. As young people who have been given the short end of the stick for years, we are
“I am tired. Please. Actually do something useful with this information.”
Addressing the ACT Legislative Assembly on Tuesday, ACT Minister for Children and Young People Rachel Stephen-Smith said a recent snapshot report showed some positive results.
The report showed as at the end of 2018 there were 825 children in out of home care – which includes children in foster care, in care of relatives and in residential care.
This was a slight increase from the same time in 2017 when there were 812 children in care, and in 2016 when there were 771 children in care.
Almost half of children in out of home care in the ACT were in kinship care as of the end of last year.
There was some improvement in the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children entering care.
Indigenous children and young people represented 17 per cent of those entering care in the first half of 2018-19 compared with 35 per cent in the equivalent period in 2017-18.
“We are talking about small numbers over a limited period of time, so it is appropriate to be cautious, but this is certainly a hopeful sign,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.
The report found the number of children exiting care was slowly decreasing but this was partly attributed to the number of children on long-term orders increasing.
Ms Stephen-Smith said she was acutely aware of the over-representation of Indigenous children in the child protection system and was committed to driving change in the area.
She said the new Family Group Conferencing program which began in November 2017, had resulted in 31 Indigenous children not entering care.
Opposition spokeswoman for Families, Youth and Community Services Elizabeth Kikkert said despite the new figures, the CREATE Foundation’s recent report showed “all was not well”.
“There is simply no excuse for this territory to be ranked dead last in the nation in so many areas of its child protection system,” she told the Assembly.
Daniella White is a reporter for The Canberra Times with a special focus on health issues