In July 2012, the Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry was established and Commissioner Hon Tim Carmody, QC was tasked with reviewing the effectiveness and efficiency of Queensland’s child protection system.
Act for Kids provided significant input. In addition to making three written submissions to the inquiry, Act for Kids’ Regional Directors were invited to take part in local focus groups, and in some cases were able to provide one-on-one briefings about key issues.
Over the year-long inquiry, Commissioner Carmody also met with young people in care and gathered information about residential care facilities. He listened to almost 400 hours of evidence travelling from Brisbane to the far northern community of Aurukun.
He found reports and notifications of child abuse in Queensland tripled over the past decade, from 33,697 in 2001–02 to 114,503 in 2011–12.The child protection budget has increased by 300 per cent in the same period.
On 1 July 2013, Commissioner Carmody released the inquiry’s final report and recommendations to the Premier. He provided a road map for the Newman Government on how he believes the state's child protection system can be improved over the next decade.
The Carmody report contains 121 recommendations that place greater emphasis on increasing prevention and early intervention support services for families to help reduce the number of children that end up in state care.
Some of key recommendations include:
- Renewed focus on supporting families to keep children at home.
- Review the cases of all children on long-term guardianship orders and children who have been in out-of-home care for less than six months to see if the arrangements are still in their best interests.
- Overhauling the reporting system to divert cases to support services and reduce the number of investigations.
- Develop a secure care model as a last resort for children who present a significant risk of serious harm to themselves or others.
- An expanded role for the non-government sector and boarding schools.
- Establishing a specialist team to investigate cases of children in care dying or sustaining serious injuries.
- The development of a new Family and Child Council to replace the Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian.
- The Queensland Police Service taking over processing of Blue Cards.
- A review aimed to ease the mandatory requirement of police, teachers and other professionals to report suspected child abuse.
Attorney-General, Jarrod Bleijie, and Minister for Child Safety, Tracy Davis, said the Queensland Government will carefully consider each and every one of the recommendations.
Act for Kids hopes this will be a catalyst for prompt improvements within Queensland’s child protection system, to provide better support and more meaningful outcomes for children and their families.
Both reports can be accessed at: http://www.childprotectioninquiry.qld.gov.au/