From: The Australian
YOUTH workers have accused child protection authorities of drugging foster kids "to the eyeballs" as a form of "chemical restraint".
A submission from the Youth Affairs Network of Queensland to the child protection commission of inquiry headed by Tim Carmody, obtained by The Australian, revealed 7 per cent of children under four in out-of-home care are on medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
More than 16 per cent of young people in foster care aged between nine years and 18 reporting taking ADHD drugs, compared with an Australian rate of 6.7 per cent.
YANQ director Siyavash Doostkhah said some children were "drugged to the eyeballs" and were unable to honestly discuss their experiences in out-of-home care.
"There is an issue with the number of young people in care who have been put on psychotropic medication," Mr Doostkhah said. "There is an alarming rate and in a way these kids are being chemically restrained."
He said the incidence of young people in care taking medication had never been widely surveyed.
In a submission to the inquiry, which will resume public hearings today, the YANQ said it had raised concerns with the government since 2002.
"The inaction of government over this time has seen a massive jump in the number of Queensland children who are being medicated," the submission said.
The inquiry is tasked with charting a course to a more effective and efficient child-protection system amid escalating costs and reports.
One in every four Queensland children will be reported to the child safety department this financial year.
More than 8000 children are in out-of-home care. The number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in care jumped 90 per cent in six years.
Former Communities Department director-general Linda Apelt is expected to give evidence today, followed by Commissioner for Children and Young People and Child Guardian Elizabeth Fraser.
Police Child Safety and Sexual Crime Group Superintendent Cameron Harsley may also appear.