Gold Coast amber alert exposes more cracks in child safety system

· More cracks appear in Qld’s Child Safety System after an at-risk newborn was taken from Gold Coast University Hospital

· Why didn’t child safety officers alert health officials about their concerns for the newborn’s safety before the child was born?

· Section 197 of Public Health Act 2005 gives health officials power to detain a child at risk of harm for 48 hours under a care and treatment order

Serious questions remain unanswered as to why Queensland Health and Child Safety officials failed to stop a mother taking her baby from a Gold Coast hospital, despite grave concerns for the newborn’s welfare.

Shadow Minister for Child Safety Ros Bates said the episode was yet another example of a broken child safety system.
“Labor’s Shannon Fentiman needs to explain why child safety officers didn’t alert Health officials about their concerns before the child was born?” Ms Bates said.
“If this information was provided, Health officials could have taken out a care and treatment order that allows them to hold a child for 48 hours if they suspect the child is at risk of harm.
“Child safety says their hands were tied but the fact is, the mother was known to the Department. They could have been actively seeking an order to ensure the safety and well-being of the child.
“This terrifying incident has exposed a broken system which Labor’s embattled Minister seems unwilling or unable to fix.
“We know that the Christmas period is a notoriously busy and dangerous period for child safety and domestic violence.
“I am extremely concerned that Shannon Fentiman hasn’t addressed the fact that her department runs on skeleton staff over the holidays – including at frontline call centres – for reports of abuse.
“It’s simply not good enough for the Minister to pull down the shutters and pack up for the holiday season.
“Thankfully, in this case, the child was found safe and well, but the clear failings and systemic flaws in the Child Safety Department’s handling of this situation can’t be ignored.
“Health officials could have invoked their emergency powers if they knew of the risk to this newborn baby, and if they did know, why didn’t they act?
“A Child Safety spokesperson has admitted the system failed – the Minister must now explain why and ensure it doesn’t happen again.
“This is a terrifying reminder that Shannon Fentiman can’t shut up shop when so many vulnerable children need protecting.”

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