Central Queensland was overlooked for a potentially life-saving child safety task force.
Central Queensland was overlooked for a potentially life-saving child safety task force. BrianAJackson

CQ overlooked for potentially lifesaving child safety task force

ROCKHAMPTON was overlooked for one of three rapid response teams to potentially "save a child's life".

Though Child Safety Minister Shannon Fentiman's has acknowledged the high number of at-risk children in Central Queensland, she said the trial locations were identified as having the "greatest need".

Under the 12-month trial, announced Monday, Specialist Investigation Officers from Child Safety will collaborate daily with child protection police in Toowoomba, the Gold Coast and Townsville to assist vulnerable children.

READ | 'Drug plague': CQ schools' alarmingly young drug offenders

Minister for Child Safety Shannon Fentiman has acknowledged Central Queensland's child safety situation.
Minister for Child Safety Shannon Fentiman has acknowledged Central Queensland's child safety situation. Mike Richards GLA010216HLTH

In a related trial, an additional four Child Safety staff will be stationed at Police Headquarters at Roma St, and will have access to QPRIME and the QPS database to further streamline information sharing between the department and police.

During a visit to the city in April this year, Ms Fentiman identified the passage from Rocky to Toowoomba as an "ice corridor" amidst shock revelations one-in-three children in the state's system have a parent who uses the drug.

Earlier this week, Ms Fentiman said while ice usage "remains a concern in Central Queensland", she believed the latest (March) quarterly data showed "promising improvements in the region".

The Morning Bulletin has published a series of reports which highlight the dire child safety situation.

OUR KIDS, OUR FUTURE | The Morning Bulletin campaign to protect our children:

According to this data, 1352 kids could not live at home with their families in Central Queensland (Emerald, Rockhampton, Gladstone, Maryborough and South Burnett, population 118,500 under 18), compared to Brisbane's 916 (under-18 population (223,000).

But Ms Fentiman believes extra staff are returning positive improvements, and noted an extra 32.5 child safety staff would boost the Central Queensland region over the next two years.

This is in addition to the 11 staff employed over the past year.

Ms Fentiman said the number of cases responded to within the recommended timeframe had risen from 37% last year to 38.6% in 2017, however a 61.4% of cases remain outside that time frame. Of the notifications received by the Child Safety Department, 92.1% had an investigation commence, the highest proportion at any time since this data was first measured in 2009/10.

Ms Fentiman said following the 12-month Joint Response trial, the department hoped to expand the teams across the state.

"We employed 129 additional Child Safety staff across Queensland last financial year," she said.

"We have invested $200 million to employ almost 300 more Child Safety staff over the next two years to further improve our results and cut case loads for our hard-working staff, the biggest boost to Child Safety staff in more than a decade."



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