Girl's death avoidable

A SENIOR Department of Communities manager says it has learnt lessons from the death of a 10-year-old girl in its care.

The comment came during a coronial inquest in Rockhampton into the death of Anna (not her real name) who died when she was struck by a car on Belmont Rd on February 9, 2009.

Anna was staying at a foster home run by Lifestyle Solutions (LS) on Greenlakes Rd in Rockyview when she ran away with a 17-year-old girl because of an argument with another girl, Mary (not her real name), who was also at the home.

The LS home was for the most vulnerable children in care with behavioural problems such as harming others.

The department had sent her there as a last resort but did not realise she would be placed with “Mary” who had been hostile towards her at a previous foster home.

The court heard “Mary” tried to strangle “Anna” and threatened to slit her throat on January 24 at the LS home.

Assistant regional director Karen Abrahams was the manager of the North Rockhampton Child Safety Services office and made the decision to place “Anna” in the new foster home.

Ms Abrahams told the inquest “Anna” was exhibiting “complex behaviours” at her previous foster home which was for short-term emergency care.

Anna had frequently run away and there was “innuendo” in the office that her family was encouraging her to do so.

She said they tried to place “Anna” with a specialist foster carer with more experience.

“If we had a magic wand it would have been a specialist foster carer.

“What we were doing is chasing our tails for placements for this young person.”

She said LS was the third choice for “Anna”.

Ms Abrahams said the file on “Mary” had no specific information that she had harmed “Anna” and if that information was available it would have made a difference to the department’s decision.

She said since “Anna’s” death a Placement Support Unit had been created which ensured greater scrutiny of where a child was being sent.

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