Queensland Government media release
Reforms underpinned by reviews of the Child Safety, Foster Care and Blue Card systems will see Queensland lead the nation in keeping children safe.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, Child Safety Minister Shannon Fentiman and Attorney General Yvette D’Ath today released the three Queensland Family and Child Commission reports which were prepared following the tragic death of Tiahleigh Palmer.
Ms Palaszczuk said reforms already underway as a result of the reports would ensure Queensland had the safest out-of-home care system in Australia.
“My government has had the courage to take a detailed look at how we can keep children safer and the fortitude to follow through on the recommendations in these reports,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“We have invested significantly to restore frontline services in Child Safety after the devastating staff cuts of the LNP government.
“These reports have helped us to target our unprecedented investment of more than 400 new Child Safety staff over two budgets to the areas of highest need, including those areas most afflicted by the drug ice and those areas stripped of staff under the LNP.
“We already have stringent processes in place for the assessment and approval of Foster Carers, and we will strengthen these processes even further to ensure we have the right carers for the right children.
“And we will further toughen the Blue Card system by increasing the number of people who will require Blue Cards, broadening the range of offences that automatically exclude applicants and modernising the application process.”
Strengthening the child protection system
Ms Fentiman said the government had strengthened the child protection system to keep young Queenslanders safe from abuse and neglect.
“These reports identified the action that needed to be taken, including increased staff numbers across the state, and the Palaszczuk Government has acted,” Ms Fentiman said.
“As a government, we are determined to make the improvements that are necessary to keep children and young people as safe as possible.
“The report identified the regions that have been the hardest hit by the LNP’s cruel decision to cut 225 Child Safety staff, and the areas where the drug ice is causing untold damage to families.
“This was vital in ensuring that our massive investment in new Child Safety staff, including almost 300 new staff announced in this year’s Budget, reaches the areas that need it most.
“We have created better training and career paths for our amazing Child Safety staff, mandatory drug testing of parents where drug use is suspected and a relief pool to cover staff on leave.
“Twelve Child Safety Officer Hospital Liaison positions have been funded to work across Hospital and Health Service catchments for earlier intervention and better case management with children and families known to Child Safety.
“We have also launched three new Joint Response teams with Child Saefty and Queensland Police Service in Toowoomba, Townsville and on the Gold Coast, while an additional four Child Safety staff will be stationed at Police Headquarters at Roma Street.
“We are focused on boosting front line Child Safety staff across the state, fighting the ice epidemic, recruiting more foster carers and providing extra support for our existing foster and kinship carers.
“We have accepted the report’s recommendations in full and have taken the necessary steps to implement them.”
Strengthening foster carer assessment, approval and renewal processes
Ms Fentiman said work was already underway to implement the 42 recommendations of the Foster Care review.
“We are toughening background checks on prospective Foster Carers so that examination of domestic violence history, traffic offences, referee checks and a medical clearance are mandatory for all applicants,” Ms Fentiman said.
“We are improving training for foster and kinship carers, and better matching carers to children in need, and also strengthening the Community Visitors Program.
“The report identified the need for more Foster Carers, and we have already launched an $18.3 million four year campaign to recruit 1000 more and help carers with childcare costs.
“We have also introduced legislation to create Permanent Care Orders, making it easier for children in long-term out-of-home care to find their forever homes, and begun a $3 million trial of professional foster carers for children with very complex needs.”
“Ultimately, we are focussed on ensuring the best possible care is available to children and young people in out-of-home care in Queensland.
Streamlining and strengthening the Blue Card system
Attorney General Yvette D’Ath welcomed the Blue Card review’s recommendations to streamline and strengthen the process for Working with Children Checks.
“This review found that Queensland has one of the strongest systems in Australia, and we are going to make it even stronger,” the Attorney-General said.
“This will include expanding the range of offences that will automatically exclude people from getting a Blue Card.
“The changes recommended by this report will enable foster and kinship carers to obtain a blue card in a more streamlined way as part of the carer approval process.
“We accept the report’s recommendation that the application process for Blue Cards needs to be modernised. This process will be further informed by the recommendations of the Royal Commission in to Institutional Responses to Child Abuse, due later this year.”