Annastacia Palaszczuk must act to protect Queensland children

Sunday, 10 July 2016

  • Annastacia Palaszczuk and Shannon Fentiman overseeing a Child Safety system on verge of crisis
  • Disturbing reports of children left in abusive and neglectful homes including toddler Mason Lee
  • Palaszczuk Government must immediately act to protect all Queensland children at risk of abuse

 

Queensland’s child protection system is on the verge of a crisis with reports that increasing numbers of children are being left in abusive and neglectful homes.

Shadow Child Safety Minister Ros Bates said she was deeply concerned about reports Child Safety was taking longer to start investigations, longer to finalise them and dealing with huge backlogs that were bringing some child safety service centres to their knees.

“Today we have confirmation that Caboolture toddler Mason Lee had been admitted to hospital suffering terrible injuries four months prior to his death and may have been the victim of a child safety system at breaking point,” Ms Bates said.

“To have vulnerable children being left in potentially abusive homes is simply unacceptable and this government must act quickly to ensure that no child suffers, or for that matter, dies whilst waiting for Child Safety to come calling.

“Minister for Child Safety Shannon Fentiman needs to urgently explain her department’s involvement in the tragic case of this little boy – and Annastacia Palaszczuk must intervene to properly resource Child Safety and turn this frightening situation around.

“Let me be very clear, this is not about laying blame on Child Safety officers, this is about giving the over 3,000 frontline workers the resources they need to protect our kids.

“Clearly there is mounting pressure on frontline child protection officers to get cases open and then properly deal with children at risk, but nothing is being done to increase resources to help with the mounting backlogs.

“If this means that any child has been left in a dangerous situation because Child Safety officers could not respond in a reasonable timeframe, then heads need to roll. Annastacia Palaszczuk must be accountable for letting down our most vulnerable Queenslanders.”

Ms Bates said an RTI document obtained by the LNP in April this year revealed the Director-General was alerted to the increasing number of overdue child abuse or neglect investigations as far back as October 2015, yet eight months on, the situation had deteriorated further.

“To make matters worse, there was no funding in Labor’s 2016/17 budget for any new frontline child safety workers,” Ms Bates said.

“The Palaszczuk Government needs to tell the truth about the state of child protection in Queensland and release the latest data so we understand the true nature of what is happening.

“Minister Fentiman needs to go to the Treasurer to get the funding she should have asked for months ago to deal with the crisis that’s unfolding in her department.”

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