Photo: A case worker allegedly showed the girl photos of her former foster family, telling her she could abandon the DVO. (ABC News: Jake Evans)
A Canberra child protection worker allegedly tried to persuade a girl in foster care to drop a domestic violence order (DVO) against her former foster family in order to see her little brother.
The ACT Government case worker allegedly showed the girl, who the ABC will refer to as Olivia, photos of her former foster parents - against one of whom Olivia had taken out the restraining order.
The case worker allegedly told her "look how much they love you" while going through the pictures, before telling the girl she could abandon the domestic violence order.
It is claimed Olivia's foster family prevented her from seeing her little brother, who still lives with them, unless she dropped the DVO.
The children, who are Aboriginal, have been kept apart for almost a year, despite several reports and complaints made by multiple people to the Community Services Directorate, some of which were allegedly not responded to.
The directorate was not able to comment on the allegations as it said it was obligated by law not to release child protection information publicly.
It said reports of concern were immediately assigned to a worker independent of the casework team.
Girl 'assaulted' by foster father
Bill Bashford resigned earlier this year from his minister-appointed role as official visitor, out of frustration over the directorate's handling of Olivia's case.
Mr Bashford witnessed the public incident of alleged abuse that resulted in a successful interim restraining order.
Photo: Former ACT Community Services Directorate official visitor Bill Bashford witnessed the alleged abuse of the girl. (ABC News: Jake Evans)
"What I witnessed was an assault. It was abuse," he said.
"There was this gentleman absolutely enraged, and there was this young child standing there, shrinking."
Olivia's new carer, who the ABC will refer to as Sam, said the incident scared Olivia.
"She was very frightened about her safety at school, she was very frightened about her safety at the shops. She was really vigilant, looking out for his car all the time," Sam said.
'You can drop that any time you know'
The incident was reported to Child and Youth Protection Services, and a case worker visited Olivia at school soon after.
Sam was not told about the meeting, but talked to Olivia and the two teachers who were present.
"None of the child's allegations [were] even mentioned. The child mentioned she wanted to see her brother, and they told her she could write letters that would be read by the [directorate] before going to [the brother]," Sam said.
"I believe that they did tell her that because of the domestic violence order she can't see her brother.
"And they did tell her a few times, 'you can drop that any time, you know'."
Following this meeting, Sam made a formal complaint to community services and met with senior Child and Youth Protection Services staff.
Sam was told the directorate was looking into Olivia's foster family, but she had a history of lying and the directorate was unsure whether what she said was true.
It was suggested that the domestic violence order be dropped in favour of mediation.
"I said, 'people witnessed his abuse ... and in their words he was scary'," Sam said.
Claims of manipulation
After this meeting, a government case worker visited Olivia at her school a second time.
"I thought a statement was going to be [taken] - she came home with a photo album the [foster] family had sent her," Sam said.
"Apparently prior to any statement being taken [the case worker] sat with her and went through the photo album and told her, 'look how much they love you'."
A teacher who was present confirmed the discussion with her carer.
"I was absolutely furious. It was heartbreaking to see the manipulation that this child was being subjected to," Sam said.
Another complaint was made to the directorate, which was allegedly never responded to.
"It's killing her, it's absolutely killing her. We've got a kid that's thinking of taking her life," Mr Bashford said.
Sam confirmed the girl had considered taking her life.
"She said to me that she just wants to ride a bike with her little brother, 'I want to go to the playground, I want to go for a swim with him, why can't we do that?'," Sam said the girl had asked.
Proposal for supervised visits allegedly ignored
Sam suggested to the directorate that a supervised visit could be arranged between Olivia and her brother, but that was allegedly rejected.
"At no point was an excuse made for this not to happen. At no point did they say that we can't do this or we will try to do that," Sam said.
The directorate said its priority was to keep siblings together where possible.
"Where this is not possible it is priority to maintain contact between siblings," a statement from the directorate read.
Mr Bashford said there should be an independent Aboriginal community body to oversee Indigenous children in care.
"The Aboriginal community would not allow this to happen," he said....Read more