Queensland’s child protection reform program is seeing results with the latest Report on Government Services (RoGs) showing encouraging signs that Queensland’s reforms are working.
Child Safety Minister Di Farmer said the most recent 2018-19 reporting period coincided with the halfway mark of the reforms.
“The Palaszczcuk Government has made an unprecedented investment in Child Safety since 2015, with $738 million allocated since 2015, and an additional almost 600 new staff,” she said.
“Compared to 2017-18, the number of investigations commenced increased by 4.9 per cent to 24,307 in 2018-19 and the number completed increased by 4.3 per cent to 23,079 in 2018-19.
“This is a direct reflection of the significant work being done to improve investigations through additional resources and enhanced processes.”
The number of substantiations in Queensland was stable compared to last year, increasing by 1.4 per cent and was significantly less than the year before reforms in 2012-13 by 19.7 per cent.
Compared to other jurisdictions the rates of children in Queensland’s child protection system remained low.
“The rates of children subject to care and protection orders and children in out-of-home care remained below the national average,” she said.
“As part of our 10 year program of Child Safety reforms, we are now doing much more to intervene early so that children can stay safely with their families.
“Child Safety Officers are now also working more intensively during investigations to de-escalate risks to children and help families to keep their children safe, and these reforms are working.
“There are now fewer children in need of protection by Child Safety at the end of investigations.
“The latest rate of children subject to care and protection orders in Queensland was 8.9 per 1,000 children at 30 June 2019 – the lowest of all jurisdictions and below the national average of 10.6.
“While Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children continue to be overrepresented in child protection nationally, rates of Indigenous children in care in Queensland are also far below the national average – 37 per 1,000 children compared to a national average of 54.2.”
“As we reach the half way point of the reform program, we know there is still much to do in Queensland,” Ms Farmer said.
“Key areas of focus going forward include increasing the effectiveness and reach of the family support system which has so far supported more than 90,000 families.
“We will also be working hard to reduce the number of, and improving outcomes for, children in care including improving the number of children placed with relatives/kin, and the proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children placed in accordance with the Child Placement Principle.”