Coroner's findings expose Far North child safety failures

23 Sep 2008 10:12 AMJann Stuckey

23 September 2008
Coroner’s findings expose Far North child safety failures

The Queensland Coroner has sent a scathing message to the Beattie-Bligh Labor Government to fix child safety services in Far North Queensland now, the LNP said today.

Coroner Michael Barnes’ blunt findings were handed down after the inquest into the death of a child under the care of the Department in 2004.

LNP Shadow Child Safety and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Community Development Minister Jann Stuckey said the Coroner’s findings showed nothing had changed in child safety despite all the Premier’s promises.

“The Bligh Labor Government is always boasting how they have reformed the child safety system yet the Coroner has found a string of problems still remain,” she said.

“Despite recommendations being made over three years ago, the Coroner found training and policies for staff working in remote communities had not been implemented.

“The Coroner found unrealistic case loads were still a concern and highlighted comments from the Zonal Director that she only had the resources to process 60% of the matters her region handles.

“Additionally, the Coroner confirmed a lack of training, unclear policies and unrealistic workloads ‘must be contributing to the high turn over of child safety officers’, causing them to make decisions as best they could with limited information, skills and experience.

“Years of ongoing neglect by this Beattie-Bligh Labor Government have resulted in a policy vacuum in Indigenous communities earmarked by unacceptable resource shortages.”

Ms Stuckey agreed with the Coroner that ‘the altruism and commitment of child safety officers cannot be questioned’ but it was ‘essential they be supported, adequately equipped and resourced’.

“The Coroner’s findings show nothing has changed in Child Safety and this Labor Government has squandered millions in reforms that have done little to support child safety staff and better protect children,” she said.

“The Minister needs to come out of hiding, support the overworked staff in her Department and take immediate steps to implement the Coroner’s recommendations to safeguard children in remote locations.”

Media Contact – Jann Stuckey 0439 755 919