Stating that “Jolene” suffered physical, emotional and sexual abuse from infancy and placements in more than 55 different homes is just scratching the surface of the pain the 28 year old endured over the course of her childhood.

Jolene had recently commenced legal action against the Department of Community and Family Services (DOCS) for failing to protect her while she was in care, but the pain was too much and she tragically took her own life before the case made it to court.



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Her lawyer Neisha Shepherd, has vowed to continue the court action in Jolene’s name on behalf of her estate. In a recent interview with the ABC, Ms Shepherd explained that Jolene’s experience was, “One of the worst cases I’ve ever come across in terms of inconsistency of placements, inconsistency with education, being continually exposed to abuse and trauma throughout her whole life.”

Not only does this case demonstrate the need for further change within the Foster care system, it also highlights the urgent need for care for Foster children when they become adults.

Ms Shepherd told the ABC that Jolene wanted her story told to help others in the same situation, “She always said to me, ‘Neisha, if anything ever happens to me, could you please make sure you tell my story?  And could you please make sure my life mattered?

That’s why I’m telling her story.  She needs to live on and her message needs to be heard.  She wanted to contribute to a change in the system.”

RIP Jolene. If this article has raised any issues for you, please seek help via one the following counselling services:

Main image courtesy of Getty

  • Absolutely terrible. Wonderful of her lawyer to continue fighting for her.


  • This is so wrong. Surely it can’t be that hard to organize safe and secure care for children in need – just shows what a mess bureaucracy can make.


  • yep, this is bullshit! I have just sold my home, and am moving interstate. my aim is to work part time and foster a child – if they will let me at 48

    • Our next door’s mum and dad foster two children and they are in between 55-60


  • I know of a situation where a Mum had 4 children, one of whom was disabled who separated from the father, taking 2 of the children with her interstate. She took a boy and girl – leaving one boy and one girl with their Father. The children left with the Dad lived with their Grandma as he couldn’t continue working to support them if they lived with him until he manged to get another job and care for the hcildren too. The Mum’s new partner didn’t like kids at all, so the kids were put into foster care. They weren’t well cared for there either. Their Aunty was sending the children clothes for Xmas, Birthdays etc. The foster parents had a daughter the same size and were putting the new clothes on their own daughter and putting old scruffy ones on the fostered girl. The childrens Aunty was contacted and asked if she would consider fostering them back which she and her husband did. She had to go interstate to collect them but I believe the kids’ fares may have been partly funded by the Govt. When the Mum saw the light and returned to her home state, initially she was only allowed short supervised visits. I believe they all now live with their Dad. That may have changed though.


  • These children are suppose to be placed in safe places and deserve to be treated in such a way. I know there are some wonderful foster carers out there, just like there are wonderful parents. These children through no fault of their own most times are placed. There are a few children who are hard to look after or make their new home a nightmare to live in. We really need more support for these type of things.


  • A very sad story and likely a preventable situation.


  • If a foster child was transferred after a certain number of times , then this when DOCS should step in to investigate further why this has happened. The system sadly failed her and perhaps if the police was involved at some point , she may have been saved . Very sad and hope we can look out for each other more .


  • 55 homes? Poor girl! I’m so sorry that she arrived to such a decision. But I can imagine how much in pain she was! :-(


  • yes it is a system and every system has flaws. poor gal. she had it tough. these poor kids, how many more of these foster children don’t get that the chance to speak up at all.


  • That’s terrible. Poor Jolene. May she rip


  • The system really failed her. RIP Jolene.


  • This is so sad… but as a foster kid myself, it’s so common.

    I went into care when I was 11, moved out alone when I was 16 and could sign a lease… 5 high schools, 1 boarding school, over 10 different foster homes, manipulative carers, a foster dad who liked to nibble on my ears (shudder), carers who stole my things, carers who sold my things, carers who gave up, carers who told me to kill myself, carers who did drugs, carers who grew drugs…
    The system really lets kids down… They just don’t have the ability to really do a good job at what they’re doing. Too many people slip through the cracks.
    I was lucky to even get my year 10 certificate, so I’m severely gimped on the jobsearch part of adulthood.

    • So VERY sorry to hear this. The system is pathetic. Hugs and all the best for surviving that and for continuing on. You are amazing. Hugs xx Granny-J


  • Such a tragic way for anyone to grow up. This story is quite shocking. Our government agencies, unfortunately, fail too many vulnerable people. It will be interesting to see how the legal process progresses.


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