Experts slam child safety response after death of seven children

Independent, external reviews into the death of seven children known to child safety reveal major concerns with case handling
Review into the death of one child recommends ‘urgent assessment of unsafe child protection practices’ by Department
Annastacia Palaszczuk and Shannon Fentiman already starting blame game rather than taking responsibility

The release of Child Death Case Review Panel Reports into the deaths of seven children known to authorities have, once again, pointed to a child safety system in crisis under the Palaszczuk Labor government.

Shadow Child Safety Minister Ros Bates said the external, independent reviews uncovered by Right to Information processes reveal damning evidence of cover-ups, misconduct and systemic failures in Queensland’s Child Safety Department.

“These reviews into the deaths of seven Queensland children make sickening reading and Annastacia Palaszczuk and her incompetent Child Safety Minister Shannon Fentiman must not sweep them under the carpet,” Ms Bates said.

“These documents uncover an investigation process that is broken and putting vulnerable children not just at risk of being abused, but of dying.

“Independent experts such as paediatricians, psychologists, and senior child health specialists found that “the department should undertake urgent assessment of unsafe child protection practices by staff”; that they “did not have confidence in the workers involved in this case,” and that “the Panel is of the opinion that the decision… was a major systems failure and that there appeared to be a complacency and a lack of accountability to ensure this systems failure does not occur again.”**
“These are very serious findings against Shannon Fentiman’s department in cases where children have been left at home and ultimately died.

“The seven reviews, uncovered by RTI, are very critical of the way Child Safety conducts investigations and how they deal with parents who, as one report highlights, have spent their lives “manipulating and lying”.
“The experts have spoken in case after case of clear dysfunction and poor practice that is leaving children in harmful and risky homes.”
Ms Bates said, in what was becoming a pattern for this incompetent, do-nothing Labor government, Shannon Fentiman hadn’t even had the decency to front media today to respond to the review findings.
“I’m appalled that instead of reading these reports about the tragic loss of seven young Queensland lives, this Minister has instead started trying to blame the previous government for her own failings,” she said.
“This is the same bad old Labor who, in just 20 months, have run Queensland’s Child Safety system into the ground.”

**Right to Information documents available on request

Key facts:

• The death of any child about whom the department receives information under the Act in the one year prior to their death will be subject to a review conducted by a Queensland Child Death Case Review Panel, comprising independent experts in the field.

• The reviews do not investigate cause of death, but consider the service delivery and practice that occurred in relation to the subject child under the Act with a focus on ensuring continuous improvement of service delivery, public accountability and improved outcomes for children. This includes exploring, where relevant, the department’s engagement with other agencies in relation to the subject child.

• The former LNP government employed 77 new frontline child safety officers, committed $406 million to implement the recommendations of the landmark Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry (Carmody Review) and left a $20 million contingency fund in Treasury to ensure Queensland children were protected.

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