A new report by Queensland’s Auditor-General has exposed major failings in the Palaszczuk Labor Government’s child protection system.
LNP Shadow Minister for Child Safety Stephen Bennett said the report was further proof that Labor could not be trusted to protect Queensland’s most vulnerable children.
“Labor’s child safety system is broken,” Mr Bennett said.
“The coronial report into the death of toddler Mason Jett Lee showed us that drastic reform is required and this new report confirms that once again.
“Labor’s failings are putting kids at risk. The LNP will overhaul the child safety system from the top down.”
The Auditor-General’s report found that:
- Some service centres do not sight children within a month of receiving a harm report (the recommended period is 10 days).
- The median time the south-west regional intake service took to screen child harm reports in 2018-19 was 304% higher than in 2013-14 (up from one day, five hours to four days, 20 hours).
- Department of Child Safety staff in four out of five regions reported concerns over a lack of induction and ongoing training for child safety officers.
- Almost 25% of children in care have had at least six placements, with 6% (626 children) having had between 11 and 20 placements.
- The Department of Child Safety publishes misleading information about the length of time taken to commence investigations, neglecting to state that the time taken to commence an investigation includes three days to screen a report of harm.
Mr Bennett said an LNP Government would address the system’s failings by creating a new Child Protection Force.
“The focus of the LNP’s Child Protection Force will be on protection,” Mr Bennett said.
“We will overhaul the system entirely and ensure it runs 24 hours a day, with a dedicated team of police investigators to clear the backlogs and overhaul investigation procedures for high-risk cases.
“The LNP’s Child Protection Force will adopt a hierarchy and rank structure similar to the Queensland Police Service to ensure proper oversight and accountability.
“A rapid response team will be on standby for after-hours support.
“There will also be increased transparency and accountability, as well more resources and training to help frontline staff protect children.”
Key changes under the LNP’s plan to protect kids will be:
- Overhauling the Department of Child Safety and renaming it the Child Protection Force, which will operate as a stand-alone agency, 24 hours a day.
- Adopting a hierarchy and rank structure similar to the Queensland Police Service to ensure proper oversight and accountability.
- Compulsory drug testing with no second chances to combat escalating drug addiction and to hold parents accountable for caring for their children.
- Recruiting more foster carers to work with local service centres and create more emergency care options.
- Calling in police investigators to clear backlogs and overhaul investigation procedures for high-risk cases, with a focus on monitoring kids under 5.
- Extending payments to foster carers for children in care until age 21 under a $4 million two-year trial bringing Queensland in-line with most other states.
“It is time to put a stop to the child abuse horror stories we’ve all seen under Labor,” Mr Bennett.
“It’s clear that only an LNP Government will make child protection a priority.”
Link to report: www.parliament.qld.gov.au/Documents/TableOffice/TabledPapers/2020/5620T1224.pdf