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    Media Statements

    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Premier and Minister for the Arts
    The Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk

    New protocol strengthens response for children missing from out-of-home care

    Premier and Minister for the Arts
    The Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk

    Monday, July 11, 2016

    New protocol strengthens response for children missing from out-of-home care

    A new joint agency protocol that strengthens the response of Queensland Government agencies to children missing from out-of-home care will take effect immediately.

     Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the new protocol would ensure a quicker, more thorough and better coordinated response involving police, schools and child safety authorities.

     Premier Palaszczuk today released a report by the Queensland Family and Child Commission (QFCC) on the adequacy of arrangements in place at the time of 12-year-old Tiahleigh Palmer’s disappearance from Marsden in last year.

     The Premier said that following Tiahleigh’s tragic death she had asked QFCC Principal Commissioner Cheryl Vardon to undertake a whole-of-government systems review of arrangements for responding to missing children in out-of-home care.

     “The report highlights that more can be done to improve whole-of-government systems and ensure more timely and coordinated responses for children missing from out-of-home-care,” the Premier said.

     “The Government supports the report’s 29 recommendations.  Work is well advanced to implement 21 of the recommendations prior to its completion, and we will now move swiftly to implement the remainder,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

     “In particular, we have acted to implement the review’s recommendation for a new joint agency protocol.

     “This protocol will formally bring together the responses of the main agencies involved when a child in out-of-home care goes missing or is absent from school or their placement.

     “As well as the joint protocol, we have strengthened and improved some procedures of individual agencies.

     “For example, police will not have to seek express permission from child safety authorities to issue a media alert about a child missing from out-of-home care. 

     “The police operations manual has been changed to indicate this revised procedure.

     “Schools will be responsible for same-day notification to parents or carers when a child has an unexplained absence from school.

     “I want the automation roll-out of this notification to every State school to be done over the rest of the year.  We will share that process with non-government schools for them to implement.

     “Every State school will be required to have procedures in place to ensure this happens. From today the Education Department will work with State schools that don’t have systems to develop an implementation plan. This may include interim manual alerts.

    The scope of the QFCC review included whether current systems were adequate for responding to children missing from out-of-home care, and whether everything possible was done when concerns were raised about Tiahleigh’s disappearance.

     “Commissioner Vardon has provided me with her report, “When a child is missing: Remembering Tiahleigh – A report into Queensland’s children missing from out-of-home care,” the Premier said.

     “Consistent with my Government’s commitment to openness and transparency, I am pleased to release the report publicly today.”

     The Review found that a there was a delayed response to Tiahleigh’s disappearance and a factor in this delay was confusion about the authorisation requirements across relevant agencies for issuing a media release to seek public information into her disappearance.

    The report makes 29 recommendations to improve systems, culture and practice including better information sharing, cultural change to build shared responsibility, consistent practices statewide, development of media protocols, and guidance and direction for agencies and foster carers to ensure timely action when a child in out-of-home care is missing.

    “The tragic disappearance of Tiahleigh Palmer is every parent’s worst fear,” the Premier said.

    “It is hard to imagine the grief Tiahleigh’s family has endured and the distress her carers have experienced.

    “We are all responsible and all have a role to play in ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all our children

    “Children in out-of-home-care are not just in the care of the Child Safety Department. They are in the State’s care.  In other words, we all have a collective responsibility for children in formal out-of-home-care.

     “We must treat children in the State’s care like we would any other child.  

     “This is the challenge for us all, but we all need to commit to build safe, connected communities where our most vulnerable, especially our children, are at the centre of our services and responses.

     “The implementation of the report’s recommendations, along with building on the recommendations of the Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry, will strengthen the integrity of the State’s child protection system,” she said.

     Media Contact: Premier’s office 3719 7000 or premiers.media@ministerial.qld.gov.au