Shock data: Troubled kids spark complaint every four minutes
CHILD Safety is receiving a fresh report on a troubled child every four minutes with more than third having parents who are meth users -- but Labor and the LNP cannot reach agreement on a solution.
A letter to State Parliament reveals the Palaszczuk Government has rejected the Opposition's solution of a Child Protection Force which would see a multi-agency response with officers working 24-7 to help kids on the street.
The Bulletin in August last year in a report outlined how the child safety system could be overhauled in an unprecedented alliance between the LNP and Labor, which would see compulsory drug testing without second chances for parents, recruiting more foster parents, and police investigating high risk cases.
But the letter from Children and Youth Justice Minister Leanne Linard said the Government would not be renaming the Department. She added that she had written to new Opposition child safety spokesperson Amanda Camm proposing both sides "continue to work together".
"The use of a term like 'force' implies a punitive action, which would be counterproductive to supporting families and children," Ms Linard wrote.
She said PeakCare Queensland and Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak had released a report in September on the LNP's proposal.
"Of nearly 2000 respondents, 61.57 per cent disagreed with the proposal, with the majority raising concerns about negative connotations of the term 'force'," Ms Linard wrote.
The Bulletin in a series of special reports in the past 12 months has exposed serious failings in the system with a 12-year-old former choir girl under foster care in a loving family joining a teenage gang and resorting to prostitution and drugs to stay alive on the streets.
In November, an exclusive photograph showed another four teenagers who were homeless, living in a tent outside the State Government department office on the Coast.
The letter from Ms Linard defends the Government's record including a $1.3 billion budget in 2019-20 and increasing staff to 197 by the end of 2023-24 including an extra 39 frontline officers in the past 12 months.
But the response to the LNP's proposal does not hide the pressures faced by the system.
"Despite significant investment and reform, the system faces increasing pressures and demand," Ms Linard wrote.
"The department has received more than 125,000 reports over the past 12 months, or one every four minutes. While the drivers of this demand are complex and relate to multiple portfolios, including health, justice, housing and education, the department is committed to providing a frontline response to support families under pressure and keep Queensland children safe.
"There are currently almost 10,200 children in care, 670 more than last year. Further, over a third of children (38 per cent) who came into care during the 12 months to March 2020, had a parent with current or previous methamphetamine use recorded, up from 36 per cent the previous year."
Ms Linard said mandatory drug testing was in place where drug use had been suspected and it remained safe for children to be in the care of their parents.
"The department works closely with the Queensland Police Service through the multi-agency Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect Team System, information sharing and mandatory reporting processes. A co-responder model also allows after-hours child safety teams to collaborate with police when it is necessary to remove a child at risk of harm during the night or attend high-risk situations," she said.
"This intensive work families is resulting in positive outcomes, with fewer children (3995) in the 12 months to March 2020 assessed as being in need of protection at the end of investigations compared to 2012-13 pre-reform figures (4460), despite more investigations being commenced."
Child Safety will be debated during Estimates hearings at State Parliament in Brisbane on Tuesday.
Originally published as Shock data: Troubled kids spark complaint every four minutes