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Academic Articles

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Children out of place' : representations of foster care in the Australian news media

Damien King Riggs


The provision of foster care in Australia has a long and contested history. These histories, along with current media representations of foster care, shape the ways in which the general public understand foster care. Importantly, and where such representations are primarily negative, it is likely that foster care will not be considered a viable option for many people seeking to engage in community work or to care for children. This paper provides an analysis of a sample of representations of foster care in the Australian news media, with a specific focus on the depiction of (1) foster children as “lost children” who are “damaged goods”, (2) foster care systems and social workers as inherently damaging to children, (3) foster carers as primarily either inadequate parents, or good parents only in comparison with “bad social workers”. The paper concludes by highlighting suggestions for future directions within media reporting of foster care in Australia.

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