Carer’s ac­cred­i­ta­tion raises out­rage

The Observer - - NEWS NATION - Sherele Moody News Re­gional Me­dia

A FOS­TER fa­ther ac­cused of mo­lest­ing a child had his carer ac­cred­i­ta­tion re-ap­proved by Child Safety three months af­ter the abuse was al­leged to have started.

A NewsRe­gional spe­cial in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­veals the prom­i­nent Gold Coast busi­ness­man, aged 41, was charged in May with in­de­cent treat­ment af­ter he al­legedly as­saulted a boy aged un­der 12 “at a mo­tel in Bris­bane” and at his home on the Coast.

It is un­der­stood the of­fend­ing be­gan in Au­gust last year and the man’s carer ac­cred­i­ta­tion was re­newed three months later.

A source close to the case told NewsRe­gional the vic­tim told au­thor­i­ties he woke up to the man “mas­sag­ing” his body.

The of­fend­ing was flagged with Child Safety in March and the man was charged with car­nal knowl­edge on May 26.

The man, who can­not be named, ap­peared in Bris­bane Mag­is­trates Court on Au­gust 21 and was bailed to reap­pear on Septem­ber 18.

He has fos­tered dozens of chil­dren since be­com­ing a carer in Septem­ber 2015.

The shock rev­e­la­tion about the man’s al­leged be­hav­iour has been met with out­rage from child safety cam­paign­ers and the LNP.

And it places even more pres­sure on Child Safety Min­is­ter Shan­non Fen­ti­man in the wake of the al­leged sex abuse and mur­der of fos­ter child Ti­ahleigh Palmer in 2015 and the al­leged mur­der of Joshua Mi­gala in April 2015.

It also fol­lows the death of Ma­son Jet Lee in June last year, the al­leged mur­der and tor­ture of Mad­di­lyn Rose Stokes in May, the death of a Yep­poon baby in March and the jail­ing in May of a Glad­stone fos­ter fa­ther who sex­u­ally abused two girls in his care.

All of these chil­dren had been through the Child Safety process and many peo­ple be­lieve it failed them.

In Au­gust, a damn­ing coro­ner’s re­view into child pro­tec­tion found ma­jor short­com­ings in the de­part­ment and other agen­cies in the deaths of 18 at-risk chil­dren.

LNP child safety spokes­woman Ros Bates said the lat­est case of al­leged fos­ter carer abuse showed her coun­ter­part Shan­non Fen­ti­man and Pre­mier An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk had not learned any­thing from Ti­ahleigh’s death.

“It casts a dark cloud over the whole carer ap­proval process,” Ms Bates said.

“The lack of lead­er­ship and on­go­ing cri­sis in child safety is un­der­min­ing the good work the many thou­sands of car­ers do ev­ery day to keep our vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren safe.”

Brave­hearts founder and child safety cam­paigner Hetty John­ston said the sys­tem was fail­ing chil­dren when it should be pro­tect­ing them.

“These are the most vul­ner­a­ble kids in our so­ci­ety,” she said. “We take them from the place where they are be­ing harmed and place them with strangers.”

Ms Fen­ti­man said she or­dered a re­view of the carer’s file as soon as she was told of the al­le­ga­tion.

He was vis­ited reg­u­larly and “no con­cerns were raised prior to March 2017,” she said.

The case was im­me­di­ately re­ferred to po­lice, she said, and the de­part­ment “moved to sus­pend his sta­tus as a carer”.

A Child Safety spokesper­son said “con­cerns” about the carer were raised with the de­part­ment and re­layed to po­lice.

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