The Palaszczuk Government’s investments in frontline Child Safety staff and community services have made a game-changing difference for vulnerable Queenslanders.
Acting Minister for Child Safety and the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence Kate Jones said the Department of Communities 2016-17 annual report highlighted that continued investment into staff and services was paying off.
“What this report highlights is that our increased investment in frontline staff and community services is having a real impact where it’s needed most,” Ms Jones said.
In 2016-17 the investment to improve frontline and frontline support services for families and children rose to more than $1 billion, helping to tackle rising demands on the Child Safety system and increasingly complex issues facing families, including use of the drug ice.
“This funding enabled us to restore frontline Child Safety services with 129 new staff employed, and we have committed to hiring almost 300 more over the next two years,” Ms Jones said.
“We also boosted specialist staff training including for Child Safety officers to better understand substance abuse, including Ice, and the effects it can have on vulnerable families.”
The report also outlines progress made in every region with localised programs like the Integrated Service Response to Domestic and Family Violence in Logan and Beenleigh, Walking With Dads trial on the North Coast or Boosting Educational Outcomes for Children in Out of Home Care in Far North.
“These localised reforms are making a real difference for vulnerable children and families in communities across Queensland.
“Already we are seeing improvements in the rate of substantiated harm, which stood at 6.5 children per 1000 children in 2011-12 compared to 4.9 last financial year.
“The investment over the last two years into new and expanded family support services is clearly showing positive results.
“Families are now able to access family support services earlier through the Family and Child Connect, Intensive Family Support and Family Wellbeing Services.”
With this new investment and cooperation it is little surprise that non-government organisations continue to rate their satisfaction with the department highly at 90% compared to a low of 78% under the LNP.
The report outlines the Palaszczuk Government’s rapid response after Tropical Cyclone Debbie left a trail of destruction across many Queensland communities in March.
“I’m proud to say the department mobilised quickly to help with community recovery, by providing over $31 million in grants paid out to more than 119,500 people,” Ms Jones said.
“Our hardworking staff set up seven Community Recovery Hubs and our new online portal for assistance grants meant applications were processed up to 51 times faster than they were following Tropical Cyclone Marcia in 2015.”
Ms Jones said domestic and family violence continued to be brought out from behind closed doors.
“We have made significant progress in implementing recommendations of the Not Now, Not Ever report, and I am proud to say work has started on all 121 key recommendations for government,” Ms Jones said.
Ms Jones said the department released the Toward Gender Parity: Women on Boards Initiative to increase the number of women on Queensland Government Boards.
“As at 30 June 2017 women comprised 77.8 per cent of the total workforce in the department,” she said.
“The department is acting on this, with 64.5 per cent women in leadership positions, in a senior officer level or above in the department.
Ms Jones said earlier this year the state’s first Good Money stores were opened, in Cairns and on the Gold Coast.
“These Good Money Shops, in partnership with Good Shepherd Microfinance are helping vulnerable Queenslanders who could otherwise be caught in a debt spiral by accessing pay-day lenders for short term loans,” she said.
“This is just another way we are investing to help vulnerable Queenslanders, right across the state.”
The annual report can be found here: https://www.communities.qld.gov.au/
Minister for Communities, Women and Youth, Minister for Child Safety and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence
The Honourable Shannon Fentiman