Queensland Child Safety Minister Di Farmer has blamed ice-addicted parents for a 6.7 per cent surge in abuse investigations during the year to September 2018. Picture: AAP/Dan Peled
Queensland Child Safety Minister Di Farmer has blamed ice-addicted parents for a 6.7 per cent surge in abuse investigations during the year to September 2018. Picture: AAP/Dan Peled

Swamped Child Safety misses targets

CHILD Safety has missed its own deadlines to investigate 60 per cent of child abuse cases, as drug-addicted families swamp frontline staff in record numbers.

Shocking new statistics show that barely a third of child abuse and neglect reports are investigated "within the timeframe''.

Queensland Child Safety Minister Di Farmer blamed ice-addicted parents for a 6.7 per cent surge in investigations during the 12 months to September 2018.

"Ice and other forms of methamphetamine have a serious impact on families, and responding to the devastating consequences is something our child safety workers do daily,'' Ms Farmer said in response to Opposition questions in state parliament.

"Close to one in three children who are coming into the care of the department have a parent with current or pervious methamphetamine use recorded.''

The latest Child Safety data shows that only 39.7 per cent of investigations began within the department's own timeframe last year.

Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston says the child protection system is ‘broken’. Picture: Annette Dew
Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston says the child protection system is ‘broken’. Picture: Annette Dew

One-third of investigations involved indigenous children, with the number of notifications jumping 12.7 per cent in the year to September, compared to 3.8 per cent for other children.

Ms Farmer said 92.8 per cent of cases requiring a 24-hour response were investigated on time, compared to 89.3 per cent when the LNP was in power in 2012-13.

The proportion of all cases investigated on time had grown from 38.6 per cent in 2012-13 to 39.7 per cent last year.

The department has targets to see and interview a child within 24 hours, five days or 10 days, depending on their deemed safety risk.

Data on the Child Safety website shows that it finalised fewer than half its investigations within its 60-day target last financial year, and dismissed nearly-two thirds of complaints as unsubstantiated.

The Courier-Mail revealed last week that more than 1300 Queensland children were harmed within 12 months of Child Safety deeming them safe.

They included a 12-year-old girl who was taken to hospital twice with "suicidal ideation'' just months after a Child Safety officer dismissed concerns for her welfare.

Child Safety is hiring 458 extra frontline staff over three years, starting from 2016-17.

Ms Farmer said Child Safety staff were dealing with "increasingly complex and difficult cases'', including domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, criminal histories and intergenerational abuse.

Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston said the child protection system was "broken".

"Still more children and babies die in Queensland than anywhere else,'' she said.

"There are still not enough people at the coalface doing the traumatic but necessary work.''

Opposition spokesman for Child Safety Stephen Bennett said the increase in notifications was "overwhelming'' the department.

"Child Safety officers continue to be overworked and it's putting children in harm's way,'' he said.

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