Child safety fig­ures a mixed bag

Dalby Herald - - NEWS - Brigid Sime­oni Brigid.Sime­oni@news­re­gional me­dia.com.au

MORE than 2800 cases of sus­pected child abuse were flagged with au­thor­i­ties in the re­gion cov­er­ing Toowoomba in the year to Septem­ber.

The lat­est De­part­ment of Child Safety data for South West Queens­land shows 2826 re­ports of al­leged harm or risk of harm re­quir­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion in the Septem­ber 2016 quar­ter, with 914 cases sub­stan­ti­ated.

This was 91 fewer re­ports than the 2917 recorded in the pre­vi­ous three months, but 296 more than Septem­ber 2015 for the re­gion, tak­ing in Roma, Ip­swich, Toowoomba and War­wick.

The fig­ures showed 1118 chil­dren on long-term pro­tec­tion or­ders – one more than the June quar­ter and 32 more than a year ear­lier.

Across Queens­land the pro­por­tion of in­ves­ti­ga­tions start­ing on time in­creased from 35% to 38% – the first im­prove­ment in three years – with 89% of those that were re­quired to start within 24 hours do­ing so.

The fig­ure for those with five and 10-day time frames was 26%.

Re­sponse times for in­di­vid­ual re­gions were un­avail­able.

Child Safety Min­is­ter Shannon Fen­ti­man said the data showed clear im­prove­ments on in­ves­ti­ga­tion times, de­spite an in­crease in the num­ber of cases be­ing in­ves­ti­gated.

“We are be­gin­ning to turn the cor­ner on these per­for­mance mea­sures de­spite be­ing busier than ever,” Ms Fen­ti­man said.

She said the 129 ex­tra child safety staff be­ing hired this fi­nan­cial year would mean fur­ther im­prove­ments.

The first 100 of these staff have been hired with the re­main­ing po­si­tions to be filled by March.

Shadow Child Safety Min­is­ter Ros Bates claimed leaked Oc­to­ber data showed the child safety sys­tem was get­ting worse.

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