Bligh neglects Indigenous child safety policy

29 Sep 2008 10:10 AMJann Stuckey

29 September 2008

Bligh neglects Indigenous child safety policy

The LNP has blasted the Bligh Labor Government for once again neglecting Indigenous child safety policy with yet another report showing the Child Safety Department is failing to meet its legal requirements.

New figures released today by the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Partnership revealed there were 669 Indigenous children in state care in 2006/07, six times what it was when Anna Bligh was Families Minister in 1998.

LNP Shadow Minister for Child Safety Jann Stuckey said the concerns raised today about the Bligh Labor Government failing to comply with the Indigenous child placement principle were similar to the concerns raised by the Opposition during Budget Estimates.

“The Child Protection Act has a framework the Department of Child Safety must follow before it places an Indigenous child in care,” she said.

“During Budget Estimates, the State Opposition revealed a leaked audit report prepared by the Children’s Commissioner made similar criticisms to what the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Partnership is making today.”

The audit report, prepared by the Commissioner for Children and Young People and Child Guardian Elizabeth Fraser, examined 101 placement decisions relating to 28 Indigenous children across Queensland. It found:

None of the Child Safety Department’s placement decisions fully complied with requirements under the Child Protection Act;
There was “no evident improvement” in the Department’s compliance with sections of the Act since the CMC inquiry four and a half years ago; and
The Department’s procedures “do not provide sufficient guidance and support for the day-to-day decisions of frontline staff”.

Ms Stuckey demanded the final audit report be released immediately as the Premier had been sitting on it since the beginning of the year.

“This report was the first of its kind and was a key recommendation of the Crime and Misconduct Commission inquiry into abuse in foster care more than four years ago,” she said.

“The Beattie-Bligh Labor Government went to the 2004 State Election saying they needed a mandate to protect children but four years later, the Children’s Commissioner has found the Child Safety Department is still failing to comply with the law.

“The Premier boasts of record spending in child safety, but as we have seen with the health system, this extra funding needs to be backed up by better management and direction from the Government.”

Media Contact – Jann Stuckey 0439 755 919