BAS­KET CASE

Files for at-risk kids as­signed to staff who quit years ago, as Child Safety cri­sis deep­ens

Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin - - FRONT PAGE - PAUL WE­STON

MORE than 40 cases of chil­dren at risk were al­lo­cated to Child Safety staff who had al­ready left the depart­ment – in some in­stances years ago – a Bul­letin in­ves­ti­ga­tion has found.

The shock­ing ex­tent of the state’s child safety cri­sis has sparked calls for a royal com­mis­sion into the depart­ment.

The probe has also found:

THE case of the baby girl al­legedly thrown into the Tweed River by her fa­ther last month would have ticked all the boxes on forms not­ing al­leged harm or risk of harm.

AN in­ci­dent re­port was not com­pleted on a child who self-harmed. That child and sib­lings were not en­rolled in school for six months.

CHIL­DREN are al­lo­cated to team lead­ers due to staff short­ages, blur­ring caseload fig­ures.

For­mer child safety of­fi­cer Karla Macpher­son said these chil­dren were our state’s most vul­ner­a­ble and has lodged a com­plaint with the Queens­land Om­buds­man.

MORE than 40 chil­dren were left to fend for them­selves in volatile fam­i­lies be­cause Child Safety kept their files with staff who had left the depart­ment years ago.

And that was just one branch.

A spe­cial Bul­letin in­ves­ti­ga­tion has un­cov­ered the shock­ing ex­tent of the state’s child safety cri­sis, three weeks af­ter the body of a home­less baby washed ashore at Surfers Par­adise beach.

The probe has found:

The case of the baby girl al­legedly thrown into the Tweed River by her fa­ther last month would have ticked all boxes on forms not­ing al­leged harm or risk of harm. Child Safety of­fi­cers did not visit de­spite re­peated calls by po­lice and the pub­lic.

For­mer DOCS staff were al­lo­cated a full case load, two months af­ter re­sign­ing.

An­other staff mem­ber, who left in 2016, had two cases al­lo­cated to him in June this year.

More than 40 chil­dren in one of­fice were al­lo­cated to of­fi­cers no longer there.

An in­ci­dent re­port was not com­pleted on a child who self-harmed. That child and sib­lings were not en­rolled in school for six months.

Chil­dren are al­lo­cated to team lead­ers due to staff short­ages, blur­ring caseload num­bers.

For­mer child safety of­fi­cer Karla Macpher­son wants a com­mis­sion of in­quiry into the depart­ment af­ter lodg­ing a com­plaint with the Queens­land Om­buds­man al­leg­ing a worker who left in 2015 was still be­ing al­lo­cated chil­dren. Po­lice in­sid­ers back her claims.

Ms Macpher­son said a de­part­men­tal in­ves­ti­ga­tion in the Gold Coast baby case would have started as soon as a per­son made a tele­phone call, sent an email or had a case con­sul­ta­tion.

“But the child may not be sighted for an­other week,” she told the Bul­letin.

The Bul­letin last month re­vealed po­lice, res­i­dents and work­ers at Broad­beach told au­thor­i­ties as early as May about the home­less ninemonth-old girl. Child Safety did not call in on the fam­ily.

Po­lice vis­ited the fam­ily three times in the fi­nal hours of the girl’s life and be­came so frus­trated they drove the fam­ily to a rel­a­tive’s house at Kingscliff, only for the baby to be al­legedly tossed in the Tweed River by her fa­ther hours later.

The Bul­letin has pre­vi­ously ex­posed how Child Safety reunited a pot-smok­ing, violent mother with her four-year-old daugh­ter whom she had bashed, and de­tailed the shock­ing case of twins be­ing hos­pi­talised de­spite con­cerns about their al­legedly cannabis-smok­ing par­ents.

Both Child Safety Minister Di Farmer and Premier An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk have de­clined to an­swer ques­tions about the case and the depart­ment’s con­duct, cit­ing child pro­tec­tion laws.

In­ter­nal de­part­men­tal forms show that, un­der the screen­ing cri­te­ria, the baby would have been deemed at risk of “ne­glect” and “phys­i­cal harm” if she was as­sessed, given her liv­ing con­di­tion.

Ne­glect in­cludes in­ad­e­quate su­per­vi­sion, in­ad­e­quate ba­sic care such as hy­giene and shel­ter, aban­don­ment, fail­ure to pro­tect and youth home­less­ness.

Phys­i­cal harm cov­ers do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.

The cou­ple had been known to po­lice and the courts re­gard­ing do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.

“A child un­der the age of three, that au­to­mat­i­cally makes them a 24-hour pri­or­ity,” Ms Macpher­son said.

“They can­not pro­tect them­selves or have the ver­bal ca­pa­bil­ity to speak out.

“They are the most vul­ner­a­ble.

“A child who is un­der one

IF THE FAM­ILY IS FRE­QUENTLY MOV­ING AROUND AND AROUND, THAT SHOULD HAVE SET OFF ALARM BELLS

KARLA MACPHER­SON

year of age is re­garded as high risk.

“If the fam­ily is fre­quently mov­ing around and around, that should have set off alarm bells.”

A tem­po­rary as­sess­ment or­der would have en­abled the baby and her brother to be placed with a rel­a­tive at Kingscliff, en­abling su­per­vised vis­its by both par­ents, she said.

Ms Farmer yesterday re­jected the call for a com­mis­sion of in­quiry, say­ing a full Queens­land Child Pro­tec­tion Com­mis­sion of In­quiry was held in 2013 and set up a 10year re­form road map.

“Our ap­proach to im­prov­ing the Child Safety sys­tem has been mea­sured and fo­cused, guided by the 10-year Child Safety re­form pro­gram Sup­port­ing Fam­i­lies, Chang­ing Fu­tures,” she said.

A re­cent em­ployee opin­ion sur­vey re­sulted in a 79 per cent re­sponse rate that sur­passed the 2017 sur­vey rates for the depart­ment, Ms Farmer said.

“Eighty per cent of re­spon­dents said they love the work they do,” she said. “How­ever, we need to keep on finding new ways to sup­port our Child Safety staff, and mak­ing sure they have the tools they need to do their jobs and keep Queens­land chil­dren safe.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.