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Jersey Care panel hears former residents 'lack faith' that failings have been fixed

Chair of the panel is back in Jersey nearly two years after the publication of the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry report. Credit: ITV Channel TV

The panel investigating the way Jersey's authorities look after children has heard from those who have left care and say they still do not believe things have improved.

Chair of the panel, Frances Oldham QC, is back in the island nearly two years after the publication of the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry report which made a damming assessment of Jersey's care system.

The report published in July 2017 revealed decades of abuse and it concluded children may still be at risk.

Since then, the government has been working to act on the panel's recommendations which include introducing inspections of care facilities, greater efforts to tackle staff shortages and the creation of a Children's Commissioner to offer an independent voice to all youngsters in the island.

Care Inquiry recommendations Credit: ITV Channel TV

Alan Collins, a lawyer representing survivors of abuse and care leavers, says there is still concern change is not happening fast enough.

He was asked if they have faith in the system.

The frank answer is no. There's a great deal of trust and cynicism and that is understandable because of what has happened in the past, for the survivors the past very much dominates their thinking so they have very little faith in politicians and governments because they feel they've been let down in the past and they judge politicians and leaders by actions, by deeds and by language.

– Alan Collins, lawyer representing survivors of abuse and care leavers

Others have seen improvements.

Lauren Burnett lived in residential care as a child and now works for the States of Jersey recruiting foster carers. She shared her experience with the panel during a series of public meetings at St Paul's Centre in St Helier this week.

There's so much more on offer now than there was then, mainly for care leavers as well. I remember leaving care and not really having any support or anybody coming round and checking from the services. All care experienced adults and care leavers have a voice and can put it forward. And I think that's the big change in the government that there's much more of an open door policy.

– Lauren Burnett

The Children's Minister, Health Minister, Chief Minister, senior public servants, and those with experience of the care system are among those who've spoken to the panel this week, as well as Children's Commissioner Deborah McMillan.

If people understand children's rights then they will understand when their rights are not being respected so when you're delivering services you can change the way that you practice. As a child, if you understand your rights aren't being respected you know how to complain about it. That's the fundamental difference that we're going to make.

– Deborah McMillan, Children's Commissioner

The Jersey Care Inquiry panel will put together another report on the government's progress which is due to be published this summer.

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