Lack of training linked to child deaths

13 Nov 2008 3:56 PMJann Stuckey

Lack of basic “entry-level training” for frontline child safety officers has been linked to the tragic bashing deaths of two young children under the watch of the Department of Child Safety, a new report has revealed.

LNP child safety spokeswoman Jann Stuckey said the latest Child Death Case Review Committee report showed child deaths increased 10 per cent to 63 in the past year* raising more serious questions about the Bligh government’s management of child protection.

Mrs Stuckey said every death of a child was a tragedy and the Child Safety Minister needed to explain how an additional six children died this year under her watch.

“Something is seriously wrong within the Department when more children keep dying, record numbers of child safety staff keep leaving, and the Minister tries to play down these appalling results,” Mrs Stuckey said.

“Instead of acting on problems listed in the 06/07 report, including lack of expertise, excessive workloads and poor staff morale, which may well have reduced the number of child deaths, the Minister has again revealed her incompetence in managing this Department.

“Now the committee’s latest (07/08) report lists 14 deaths occurred from incidents including assault and suicide of children under the supervision of the Department.

“This government needs to act urgently on the review committee’s latest recommendations, especially its call for proper training for frontline child safety officers. To delay further is literally placing vulnerable children’s lives at risk.

“Key points in the report are staff shortages and a reluctance of senior officers to allow more junior staff to attend training courses.

“The report states (page 44) that new staff are performing frontline risk assessments of serious child abuse without even basic, entry-level training.

“Staff training is a critical issue and one that I have raised numerous times in the Parliament. It is utterly shameful that the Bligh Government doesn’t see fit to make it a priority.”

13 November 2008

Media contact: Jann Stuckey 0439 755 919

* A total of 63 child deaths were recorded in 2007/08 compared with 57 in 2006/07.