Drug users 'perfectly able to look after children'

Mike Smithson
Drug users ‘perfectly able to look after children’

One of the top brass in Families SA has told a parliamentary committee that some parents who take drugs are perfectly able to look after children.

The tragic case of Chloe Valentine who died in shocking and neglectful circumstances has thrust child protection into the spotlight.

The select committee is trying to find solutions to the multitude of problems plaguing Families SA.

Education and Families SA chief Tony Harrison was today asked if illicit drug use or alcohol abuse were tolerated in homes where children were already under threat.

He would not say yes or no, but conceded they were not the triggers for automatic removal.

Multiple abuse of neglect notifications to the department do not necessarily result in children being taken away.

"Ultimately removing a child from a biological family is a major decision, there are some horrendous examples where once you get to that point, that children, in some cases sadly never recover," Mr Harrison said.

Senior Families SA bureaucrat Rosemary Whitten also told the select committee: "Some people will take drugs and they're perfectly able to operate in society and take care of children and so on."

But Family First has questioned that logic.

"If somebody's using illicit substances, then we really have to ask the question if they're suitable to be looking after their children," Family First MP Dennis Hood said.

With an annual budget of $343 million, Mr Harrison said Families SA resources are stretched with an ever-increasing workload.