Enquiries and demand for Queensland’s child safety services continue to rise, with drug and alcohol problems, mental health, and domestic violence affecting families throughout the state.
Child Safety Minister Di Farmer said the latest yearly data revealed child safety services were working with more families and children at risk of complex and multiple concerns, often requiring more intensive and longer term support and assistance.
“The Queensland Government will invest $1.3 billion in 2019-2020 to prevent and respond to child abuse and neglect, and continue our reform of the family support and child protection system with a focus on early intervention,” Ms Farmer said.
“Along with additional frontline staff, we are funding more services and initiatives to respond to families sooner, helping them to break the cycle and keep children safe.
“Since January 2015, Family and Child Connect (FaCC) services have now received more than 100,000 enquiries, including 33,600 in the last year alone, with 20 per cent of these enquiries coming from parents themselves.”
There are now 17 FaCC services around the state, providing a caring and compassionate entry point for information and support for vulnerable families before they become involved in the child protection system.
In 2018-19, child safety staff commenced 23,133 investigations, up six per cent compared to the year before.
“This includes 4,008 notifications with a 24 hour priority, an increase of 10 per cent, with 92.5 per cent of these commenced within that timeframe,” Ms Farmer said.
“The number of Queensland children coming into care has stablished as we reach the halfway mark of the government’s 10 year Supporting Families Changing Futures reform program, meaning the early intervention work we are doing is making a difference.”
Ms Farmer said the government’s commitment to more frontline staff was helping to keep Child Safety Officer caseloads at under 18 cases for the seventh quarter in a row.
The latest data reveals that methamphetamine use – particularly Ice – remains the number one factor impacting child safety in Queensland, with the drug being linked to 38 per cent of children in need of protection by Child Safety.
“For these children, we know that the vast majority of them – nearly 80 per cent – came from families where parents had only recently begun using ice, and sadly more than half the children impacted by parental ice use were under the age of five,” Ms Farmer said.
“We are resolute in our efforts to fight the use of ice which continues to ravage so many families and communities all around the state.
“A silver lining to these latest child safety figures is the more than 10 per cent increase in the number of Queenslanders stepping up to become foster and kinship carers for the first time.
“Overall the number of carers is also up, with 5,345 carers in 2018-19 helping to care for and protect Queensland children when their home is no longer the safe place it should be.”
For more information on how to become a foster carer, call the Foster Care Recruitment Line on 1300 550 877 or contact one of Queensland’s many foster care support agencies direct.
Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence
The Honourable Di Farmer