The Palaszczuk Government has welcomed an audit of the Family Support and Child Protection System and said implementation of several recommendations was already under way.
Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women Di Farmer said the independent Queensland Audit Office report identified the child protection system was under pressure, but that Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women and other agencies are already working to address matters raised in the report.
“My Department has accepted or accepted in principle all of the eight recommendations,” Ms Farmer said.
“We’re continuing to work to improve and strengthen the child protection and family support system.
“While the Report makes important findings and recommendations to which we must respond, this is the second recent report which reviewed the child protection system, found it is under pressure, made quality recommendations, and did not find the system is broken.”
The other recent report was the inquest of the Deputy Coroner into the death of Mason Jet Lee.
Minister Farmer said that the audit report makes clear that staff and agencies across the child protection and family support system are working harder than ever.
“It identifies high demand and growth in the number of families with multiple and complex needs as the principle source of pressure on the system,” Ms Farmer said.
“Currently, we’re dealing with a call every four minutes about a child suspected of being at risk of harm.
“Nearly 40 per cent of children who came into the care of the department in the 12 months to 31 March 2020 had a parent using methamphetamine or a previous record of use.
“Almost three out of four children coming to Child Safety’s attention are living in families with multiple risk factors.
“They include mental health, domestic and family violence and drug and alcohol abuse, many of these risks to children are compounded by COVID-19 related unemployment and financial problems.”
Minister Farmer said the statistics demonstrate the challenging and important work by Child Safety Officers daily.
“That’s why the Palaszczuk Government has made an unprecedented investment since 2015 in Child Safety funding and additional staff,” she said.
“We’re spending $1.3 billion this year alone on Child Safety and the delivery of an additional 500 frontline staff.
“Our investment has driven down average caseloads for child safety officers to around 18, down from a peak of 21 under the former LNP Newman Government.”
“Most of the audit recommendations relate to or build on work already underway.
“This includes a streamlined system for better information sharing between agencies to keep vulnerable children safe, as well as additional training and resources for frontline staff.
“The audit highlights the importance of a unified whole-of-government responses to children and families at risk.
“We know COVID-19 will have a long tail of recovery.
“And, a whole-of-government approach will be vital as we recover from the pandemic and anticipate even more demand and pressure on our services.”
The response of Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women to the Audit Report identifies which recommendations are already being implemented, and is included in the Report, commencing at page 42.