QLD’s Child Protection System Failing Children - Report
2 July 2013 at 12:37 pm
A damning child protection report has found the current Queensland child protection system is failing to ensure the safety, well-being and best interests of children.
The State inquiry report, Taking Responsibility: A Roadmap for Queensland Child Protection, identified three main causes of “systemic failure” including not enough money being spent on early intervention to support vulnerable families, and a tendency from all parts of society to shift responsibility onto Child Safety.
The report cited a ‘risk-averse ‘better safe than sorry’ culture and called for a collaborative effort between Government and non-Government sectors, the vocational education and training sector and universities.
Over the past decade, child protection intakes in QLD have tripled, the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care has tripled, the number of children in out-of-home care has more than doubled, and children in care are staying there for longer periods, according to the report.
In ten years the budget for child protection services has more than tripled, going from $182.3 million in 2003–04 to $773 million in 2012–13.
Commissioner Tim Carmody, QC said the entire child protection system was reviewed as part of the inquiry.
“There is a critical need for an accessible and adequately resourced family support system in Queensland and a clear imperative for everyone involved in child welfare- starting with parents- to take responsibility for their own role,” he said.
“In my opinion, the symbiotic link between supporting families and having fewer children
in the system is irrefutable and has been ignored or underestimated by Government for too long.
“I am also firmly of the view that better rehabilitative and therapeutic family support for parents under stress- especially in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities plagued with chronic neglect- is the key to stronger Queensland families and safer children.”
Commissioner Carmody said there was little point in tearing a family apart just to try to put it back together again later.
“The risk-averse ‘better safe than sorry’ culture that has sprung up over the last 10 years
has been only too evident during this inquiry.
“This overly timorous attitude pervades child protection decision-making at all levels of Government and across the entire system.
Carmody said this attitude was the root cause of over-reporting, resource wastage, workforce stress and an overcrowded out-of-home care system struggling to provide safe and stable placements for children with multiple and complex needs who could, with proper support, be cared for safely at home by a still-loved parent.
The report found the non-Government service sector in Queensland was already playing a “critical role” in the delivery of family support and child protection services.
Carmody said the sector would expand further if the reforms proposed in the report were implemented.
To help in this, the Commission has made a number of recommendations including the establishment of a Family and Child Council to work with the sector and government to enhance the delivery of high-quality community services to Queenslanders.
The Commission recommends that its proposed Family and Child Council lead the development of a workforce planning and development strategy across the Government and non-Government sectors.
It recommended this be a collaborative effort of Government and non-Government sectors, the vocational education and training sector, and universities.
“The sector can expect to provide more services and assume more responsibilities,” he said.
“For this to occur, a number of challenges facing the sector need to be addressed.
“These relate to its relationship with government; its ability to cope with increasing regulatory and administrative demands; and its capacity to deliver high-quality services to all parts of the state.”
The report emphasised the development of strong collaborative partnerships between the Government and the non-Government sector as “an essential component” of the implementation of the Child Protection Reform Roadmap.
Download the report that: