Queensland’s broken child safety system will receive a total overhaul under a future Frecklington LNP Government, as the latest data reveals the full extent of the problems facing North Queensland.
Speaking in Townsville today, LNP Shadow Minister for the Child Safety and Youth Stephen Bennett said the data is further evidence for the LNP’s plan to be introduced.
“The number of child harm cases in Townsville and Cairns is deeply disturbing,” Mr Bennett said.
“Figures from the Department of the Child Safety revealed 1474 substantiated cases of harm against children in the department’s Northern Queensland region in the year to September 2019.
“Too many vulnerable kids are falling through the cracks and that has to stop.
“The LNP will create a new Child Protection Force, which would operate 24 hours a day and include a rapid-response team and a new squad of police investigators to clear the backlogs.
“We will also introduce compulsory drug testing with no second chances to combat escalating drug addiction and to hold parents accountable for caring for their children.”
The Department of Child Safety data shows that 482 families in the northern district were subject to Interventions with Parental Agreements. The parents in these families would all be subjected to drug-testing under an LNP Government.
State-wide figures also showed that just 39% of the department’s child abuse investigations were completed within 60 days.
“The LNP’s Child Protection Force will implement random compulsory drug tests for illicit substances like methamphetamine for people on Intervention with Parental Agreements,” Mr Bennett said.
“Under the LNP’s plan, positive tests to certain illicit substances will require participation in a drug rehabilitation service so parents get the support they need to break the addiction.
“A second positive test will lead to children being placed in foster care under a no-second-chances model because the cycle of drug abuse must be broken.
“The LNP will introduce new performance reporting for all regional child safety service centres to increase transparency and accountability for senior executives to ensure vulnerable kids don’t fall through the cracks.
“Regional offices will be required to undertake two-year accreditation programs to improve standards and increase local accountability, similar to recent changes in New South Wales.
“Officers in the LNP’s Child Safety Force would undergo new training and development with a focus on identifying behaviours that put kids at risk, with increased early intervention to identify the support needed for kids in care.
An LNP Government will extend payments to foster carers for children in care until they are 21 under a new $4 million two-year trial that will bring Queensland in-line with most other states.
“It’s about creating a long-term care model, with increased support for carers and more help for families transitioning kids into adulthood to break the cycle,” Mr Bennett said.
Mr Bennett said the LNP would also increase the use of adoption through a new triage model with permanency order targets and new KPI’s, with a priority for vulnerable children under three years of age.
“The Carmody Inquiry recommended more adoption permanency orders through use of adoption, but that hasn’t happened under Labor,” Mr Bennett said.
“An LNP Government will recruit more foster carers to work with local service centres and create more emergency care options.”
The LNP’s Child Protection Force:
- Overhauling the Department of Child Safety and renaming it the Child Protection Force, which will operate as a stand-alone agency, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week;
- Adopting a hierarchy and rank structure similar to the Queensland Police Service to ensure proper oversight and accountability;
- Compulsory drug testing with no second chances to combat escalating drug addiction and to hold parents accountable for caring for their children;
- Recruiting more foster carers to work with local service centres and create more emergency care options;
- Calling in police investigators to clear backlogs and overhaul investigation procedures for high-risk cases, with a focus on monitoring kids under 5;
- Extending payments to foster carers for children in care until they are 21 under a new $4 million two-year trial that will bring Queensland in-line with most other states.