Youth worker reveals shocking truth of care home dangers
A YOUTH carer has revealed the shocking truth about what goes on behind closed doors at juvenile homes, speaking of false sexual assault claims, violent attacks and daily threats while doing their job.
The Townsville carer, who did not want to be named, told the Townsville Bulletin they could not do anything to protect themselves, as they were bound by Department of Child Safety laws.
"Our hands are tied," she said.
"We work really hard, but sometimes it seems to others like we are just letting them do whatever they want. We can't stop them."
The woman spoke of multiple, horrific incidents she knew about in her three years working in the Townsville system, including a fellow carer being "jumped" and severely injured by two teenage girls.
She said carers could not physically touch a child or stop them from leaving the care house, which was never allowed to be locked with a key.
Carers often spent hours driving around the city looking for juveniles who ditched school or walked out the front door of their home, unable to report some children as missing.
In her experience, about 40 per cent of children who were in care homes were enrolled at school.
The children, aged between seven and 18-years-old, could live in the homes full-time but most stayed just a few days after being released from Cleveland Juvenile Detention Centre.
She said carers were assaulted daily, their cars damaged and the care homes were "smashed up" weekly.
The woman knew "numerous friends and colleagues" who were wrongly framed for sexual or physical assault against the children, with some youths even threatening to get workers fired.
"The kids have been in care so long they just know how to get someone they don't like kicked out," she said.
"We know it is part of our job, but it's frustrating when people blame the carers for not preventing the behaviour."
Her frustration comes in wake of a 15-year-old boy caught on camera chroming in a Mt Louisa park while a suspected carer sits nearby.
The carer was photographed by a concerned resident using her mobile phone while the child chromed for three hours.
"She would have been writing her incident report not scrolling through Facebook," the woman said.
"It's really hard to not get upset about this because it's protocol. She's just doing her job.
"If you remove an aerosol can from a child chroming and their heart rate elevates, they could drop dead on the spot."
The woman said she was unaware of the real issues juvenile offenders faced before she became a youth worker.
"I thought they are just bad kids doing bad things … that nobody cared about them," she said.
"After hearing their stories and knowing where they come from, your mind changes."
She did not excuse the behaviour of youth offenders, but said the deeply-rooted issues of past child trauma was the stem of their problems.
"Some of these kids have grown up with nobody. The streets is all they know," she said.
She said detention was not working and prevention methods needed to be targeted earlier in a child's life.