Multiple investigations are underway after a worker at a Victorian residential care unit allegedly supplied a child with the drug ice, but was allowed to continue their shift after the allegation emerged.
The 16-year-old girl’s mother told the worker’s managers about the allegation and demanded immediate action, but the worker was not stood down by her employer, Wesley Mission Victoria, until the next day.
The girl told her mother the worker had given her and other children at the unit ice and marijuana, and had taken her to the worker’s inner-city home.
The mother told the ABC she was initially wary about believing her daughter’s claims, and told her the consequences for the worker could be considerable.
However, she said her daughter then showed her photographs and instant messages which seemed to verify that she had been to the worker's house and at least discussed drug use with her.
"How is that appropriate, to be socialising and messaging with a child you are supposed to be looking after, let alone supplying them and other kids with drugs?" the mother said.
Investigations are being conducted by Victoria Police and the Department of Health and Human Services.
The incident raises further questions about the quality of the workers caring for the state's most vulnerable children.
Wesley Mission is also looking into the case and investigating why the worker went to the mother's house after the complaint was made, taking with her another child from the unit.
"I can't believe she was allowed to keep working, and also put me and my family at risk by bringing this other girl to my house," the mother said.
"I really feel they treated me like an idiot, and have only begun to take this seriously because I spoke out and contacted the media."
Worker's care unit was a 'gold standard' facility
The department and the organisations admitted they did not know at least one casual agency was supplying staff without the required checks.
The Victorian Government has since announced that by the end of this year, it will be mandatory for all residential care workers to have minimum qualifications.
Figures from 2014 showed one-third of residential care workers had no post-secondary qualification.
The units are primarily houses spread through Melbourne's suburbs and in regional areas, housing between one and five children.
The unit at which the suspended worker was based is a "therapeutic" unit, which is supposedly the "gold standard" for these types of facilities.
In a statement to the ABC, Wesley Mission Victoria's acting chief operating officer said the organisation was taking the allegations very seriously.
"Our first priority is the welfare of our client, and we continue to provide both our client and their family with support while this matter is being investigated," Kelly Stanton said.
"Wesley, the Department of Health and Human Services and Victoria Police are currently looking into this incident and the employee involved has been stood down until the completion of these investigations. All allegations made in relation to this incident will be thoroughly and carefully investigated.
"We're also commissioning an independent review to assess the management of our early response to these allegations."
The Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement it had begun a, "quality of care review into the circumstances of this matter".
"The [department] expects all young people in residential care are in a safe, home-like environment with appropriate support," it said.
"If there is evidence that this has not occurred, the department will initiate immediate action with the relevant agency to make improvements."
This post originally appeared on ABC News.
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