Shock data reveals CQ’s child safety shame
CONCERNING child protection figures have arisen for Rockhampton, Mackay and Wide Bay in data from the Department of Child Safety.
The figures show 1067 substantiated cases of harm against children in the department's Central Queensland region in the year to September 2019.
The figures come as both the State Government and Opposition launch respective strategies, albeit varied, to combat youth delinquency.
The data shows 372 families in CQ were subject to Interventions with Parental Agreements. The parents of these families would all be subject to drug-testing under a strategy proposed by the opposition.
State-wide figures also show just 39 per cent of the department's child abuse investigations were completed within 60 days.
Queensland LNP leader Deb Frecklington said the figures were evidence of a failing system she would overhaul "from the top down".
"The LNP's new Child Protection Force will put safety first and stop vulnerable kids from slipping through the cracks," she said.
"The LNP's Child Protection Force would take a hard-line approach to drugs to keep kids safe.
"The cycle of drug use and child abuse must be broken, and parents need to break the cycle of addiction to ensure they can care for their kids."
Ms Frecklington said the Child Protection Force would implement random compulsory drug tests for illicit substances like methamphetamine for people on Intervention with Parental Agreements.
"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," she said.
Ms Frecklington said the scale of abuse gave further support to her party's push to create a new Child Protection Force, including a 24-hour rapid-response team and a new squad of police investigators to clear backlogs.
She said the LNP would increase the use of adoption through a new triage model with permanency order targets and new KPIs, prioritising vulnerable children under three years of age.
Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women Di Farmer admitted the number of parents not willing or able to look after their children was alarming, as was the demand for services and complexity of cases.
"Child Safety receives one call every four minutes about a child suspected of being at risk of harm," the Minister said.
"That's why the Palaszczuk Government has significantly increased the Child Safety budget over the last five years.
"This year we're spending $1.3 billion on Child Safety and by the end of next year we will have employed 500 additional frontline staff."
Minister Farmer said the number of children being removed from home because their parents were using ice had increased by more than 30 per cent in the past two years.
"Five years ago, cases involving ice abuse were rare, now 37 percent of cases state-wide include ice addiction," she said.
"Ice was the reason the Palaszczuk Government in 2016 introduced mandatory, random drug testing of parents with vulnerable children.
"Since July 1, 2019, Child Safety has processed 8000 drug tests.
"It's also one of the reasons the Palaszczuk Government has announced a $100 million Action on Ice initiative, including a new rehabilitation centre in Rockhampton.
"The centre is expected to start construction in coming months with a live-in drug rehabilitation program for families affected by Ice, and the Breakthrough for Families program to help steer families from addiction."
Minister Farmer said Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk had last week asked her to work with the LNP to address the needs of vulnerable children.
"We met late last week, and I am now waiting on details of how their policy is different from what the Palaszczuk Government already has in place, including any additional funding the LNP may propose," she said.