An open letter to Child Safety Officers across Queensland

As a nurse and a mother, I support you 100 per cent in the work you do every day to protect vulnerable children.

After speaking to so many of you in person, a Labor and Together Union scare campaign is now limiting my ability to see you.

In 2016, when I first took on this role, I was approached by a Child Safety staff member about the circumstances surrounding Mason Lee’s death.

I was told of staff working long hours for which they are never paid, managing complex and competing demands. Staff feared another imminent death due to the workloads and pressures they were experiencing. I was also informed senior and executive management were already aware of this incredibly pressure, but had failed to act.

Since then, you have continued to tell me about the pressures you face.

Soon after my appointment, I was sent departmental data highlighting the very real pressures that Child Safety Service Centre staff are under.

I want the system to work so no child is ever forgotten, lost or hidden in a backlog of cases. I have committed to honour the legacy of Mason Lee; to fight for adequate resources for frontline staff; and to continue to understand the pressures being faced by staff, especially in regional areas.

To do this, I have committed to visit every Child Safety Service Centre in the State. But this week, I have been refused entry to the Service Centres I have attempted to visit.

My intention has always been to honour the work you do and highlight how the system is letting you down. I have been appalled as staff have been held responsible for system failures while the Minister and her Director-General have not, despite knowing the pressure you face.

As a nurse, we have a lot in common and I understand the challenges you confront. Those who have met me know I will never scapegoat you or hold you responsible for systemic failings like the Labor Child Safety Minister has.

Queensland children deserve a world class child protection system. That’s what I will continue to work toward.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for everything you do.

Yours sincerely

Ros Bates MP
Shadow Minister for Child Safety