The Queensland Government has marked major milestones in its 10-year Child Safety reform program.
Releasing the Supporting Families, Changing Futures 2018 update at the annual Child Protection Week dinner on Friday (September 7), Minister for Child Safety Di Farmer said it was important to mark achievements, but there was still much to do.
The update highlights the government’s commitment to family support and child protection, key achievements and what lays ahead in the reform agenda.
“As a government we are working incredibly hard to make sure our child protection system is as strong and robust as it can be, and our 2018 update on the Supporting Families Changing Futures shows that,” Ms Farmer said.
“We have also released the Strategic Direction we will undertake to continue with our reforms as we move to the second half of the 10-year reform agenda,” she said.
“The next five years is about building on our significant achievements so far to not only embed the existing reform program but also to further strengthen the system.”
Ms Farmer said improving results in Child Safety were encouraging but did not happen overnight.
“We have seen seven consecutive quarters of improvement on key measures in our Child Safety data,” Ms Farmer said.
“That includes our response times to the most urgent cases being the best since 2009, and our caseloads are down to 17.4 meaning Child Safety officers can spend more time on each case.”
Ms Farmer said the Supporting Families Changing Futures reforms were in direct response to the Carmody Inquiry.
“We are almost halfway through the 10-year reform program and we have now completed almost 80 of the 121 recommendations made by that inquiry,” Ms Farmer said.
“As a result we are seeing substantial improvements to our child protection system, including improvements that help and support vulnerable families across Queensland.
“Families now have access to greater family support services with a record spend of $1.26 billion in this year’s budget invested into Child Safety Services.
“There has been an improved response to calls from at risk children and families and a decrease in the number of children found to be in need of protection.”
Ms Farmer said Supporting Families Changing Futures focused on improving parenting skills so that small problems were resolved before a family had to enter the child protection system.
“I am thrilled to see an estimated 200,000 parents have accessed the Triple P Positive Parenting program since 2015, and that there has been a 24 per cent drop in the number of children re-entering the child protection system,” she said.
“The rollout of the Family and Child Connect and Intensive Family Support Services provide early intervention when and where it’s needed, and almost 29,000 enquiries were made to the service in the last year alone.
“We now have 44 Intensive Family Support services operating across the state, offering families grappling with complex issues the support they need by linking them to specialist help to address their challenges, but also to build up their capacity to nurture and care for their children.
“In addition to that there are 17 Family and Child Connect services covering 20 catchment areas across Queensland.”
Ms Farmer said 33 Family Wellbeing services state-wide provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families with culturally appropriate support.
“We are committed to reducing the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the child safety system, and this is one way we are working with families to make sure they have the tools they need to care for their children,” she said.
Ms Farmer said there had been a 21 per cent increase in referrals to Child Safety by family members, friends and neighbours.
“This clearly shows that everyone is taking their responsibility to keep children safe very seriously, and that our message about child safety being everyone’s responsibility is working,” she said.
With Queensland’s 32nd Child Protection Week in full swing Child Safety Minister Di Farmer is reminding all Queenslanders that child protection is everybody’s business.
Ms Farmer said the week, which ends tomorrow (September 8) had been a great opportunity for Queenslanders to get involved, and learn more about their role in keeping children safe.
“This is the perfect time to remind Queenslanders that everyone has a role to play in keeping Queensland children safe, and that protecting our children and young people is everyone’s business,” she said.
Ms Farmer said another great result was the Talking Families campaign, which now had 30,000 following on Facebook.
“We all know that parenting can be really tough at times, and what Talking Families does is encourages people to ask family and friends for help and guidance,” she said.
Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence
The Honourable Di Farmer