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    Media Statements

    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    JOINT STATEMENT
    Premier and Minister for the Arts
    The Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk
    Minister for Communities, Women and Youth, Minister for Child Safety and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence
    The Honourable Shannon Fentiman

    Palaszczuk Government to upgrade information sharing over missing children

    JOINT STATEMENT

    Premier and Minister for the Arts
    The Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk

    Minister for Communities, Women and Youth, Minister for Child Safety and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence
    The Honourable Shannon Fentiman

    Monday, February 20, 2017

    Palaszczuk Government to upgrade information sharing over missing children

    The size and complexity of the task facing the various agencies responsible for ensuring child safety across Queensland has been highlighted by a series of reports released today by the Palaszczuk Government.

    The documents reveal a continued reduction in the number of child deaths in Queensland.

    Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said that the downward trend only strengthens her government’s resolve to implement even more measures to reduce childhood mortality in any form.

    “To tell the parents of any child who dies that our efforts have been enough would rightly be considered offensive,” said the Premier.

    “We must never stop looking for ways to ensure the safety of Queensland children, especially those who are most vulnerable and at risk.”

    The Palaszczuk Government has today released three child safety reports.

    Annual Report Deaths of children and young people Queensland 2015-16

    The Queensland Family and Child Commission reports on all registered deaths of children in Queensland.

    In 2015-16 it reported on 390, down from 445 the previous year.

    Three-quarters of deaths in the last year (291) were caused by either disease or medical conditions contracted after or before birth, with infants accounting for 73% of those deaths.

    Six children died with notifiable conditions, three from diseases potentially preventable by vaccines.

    Road accidents accounted for 18 deaths; eight Queensland children drowned and 29 from Sudden Unexpected Deaths in Infancy and SIDS.

    The cause of some deaths has not yet been determined by the Coroner.

    Disturbingly, in 2015-16, 20 children died of suicide and nine from either fatal assault or neglect.

    The annual report into Child Deaths also found the number of children known to the Child Protection system who died fell slightly, from 51 to 46.

    Among those, medical conditions and disease were again the majority.

    Four of the children who died of fatal assault or neglect were known to the Child Protection system in the 12 months prior to their death.

    The Premier said the Queensland Government remains committed to attacking child mortality rates from every possible angle.

    “Protecting Queensland children requires a whole of government approach, across all agencies and departments,” she said

    Already, the Palaszczuk Government has:

    • Given childcare centres the power to exclude children who are not fully immunised against vaccine-preventable diseases; 
    • Helped more than 50,000 Queensland parents by providing $6.6 million dollars to give Queensland parents free access to the Triple P program, which promotes a nurturing, constructive relationship between parent and child;
    • Supported foster carers by giving them the authority to ensure children in their care can be immunised;
    • Allocated $87 million over five years to mental health services for children and young people as part of our broader mental health plan, Connecting Care to Recovery and rebuilding a new youth residential and extended treatment facility to replace the Barrett adolescent centre closed by the LNP;
    • Introduced minimum ratios of one nurse to four patients for morning and afternoon shifts, and one nurse to seven patients for night shifts in prescribed medical, surgical and mental health wards;
    • Allocated $43 million in new funding to drug and alcohol treatment services, and released a draft Action Plan to reduce the supply, demand and harm associated with the drug ice; and 
    • Ensured 300,000 15-to-19 students will have access to a free, four strain meningococcal vaccine from next term thanks to an extra $6 million in funding.

    Supplementary Review

    The Queensland Family and Child Commission has also handed down a report on information sharing to enhance the safety of children in regulated home-based services.

    This follows the When a Child Is Missing report, commissioned after the disappearance of Tiahleigh Palmer.

    Recommendation 28 of When a Child Is Missing required the Commission to undertake a further review of information sharing between agencies involved in making decisions about the safety of children in home-based care, such as foster care and family day care.

    The Palaszczuk Government supports all 17 recommendations of the Supplementary Review, which include:

    • improving the visibility of home-based childcare services and monitoring of family day care services in Queensland;
    • developing a centralised register and regulatory approval of home-based services; and
    • authorising the Queensland Police Service to share information with relevant agencies.

    In direct response to the When a Child Is Missing report, the Premier has today announced her government will invest $6 million to upgrade IT systems to allow for faster information-sharing between agencies for missing children.

    The Government will also establish a centralised register of all child-related care services being conducted from a person’s home.

    The register would be set up within the Blue Card system.

    “Almost all of the recommendations from the When a Child is Missing report have been implemented,” Premier Palaszczuk said. 

    “This subsequent review of information sharing between agencies, the measures to improve screening of family day care and other home-based care providers, and the upcoming report on the Blue Card and foster care systems will all build on the outcomes of the 2013 Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry. 

    “The end result will be a stronger child protection system and stronger safeguards for children in care situations across the board.”

    The Premier said the register of home-based services would be operational by April next year.

    The Child Death Annual Report and Recommendation 28 Supplementary Review are available online at http://www.qfcc.qld.gov.au/

    Queensland Child Death Case Review Panels annual report 2015-16

    The annual report shows Queensland Child Death Case Review Panels completed 66 reviews during 2015-16.

    The report considered the cases of 59 children who died and seven children who sustained serious injuries who were known to the Department of Child Safety between August, 2014 and December, 2015.

    Minister for Child Safety Shannon Fentiman said the leading causes of death among cases considered by Panels were suicide and disease or other medical conditions.

    “The death of any child is always a tragedy and I want to convey my sincere condolences to the families of these children,” Ms Fentiman said.

    “We owe it to all the families that experience such tragedy to ask hard questions to ensure we are learning everything we can to prevent such tragedies in the future.

    “That is exactly what my department does through rigorous internal Systems and Practice Reviews, which is then put before an independent Child Death Case Review Panel of experts.

    “It’s the job of these experts to identify and encourage improvements in the way we interact with children and families and to ensure we are accountable for decisions made along the way.”

    Ms Fentiman said better information sharing between agencies was an area the panel recommended as consistently in need of improvement in relation to the 66 cases it considered.

    The Child Death Review panel report is available at:

    https://www.communities.qld.gov.au/childsafety/protecting-children/resources-publications

    The Government still has a number of important child safety reviews to consider: 

    • The QFCC review into the death of Mason Jett Lee, including the independent Child Death Case Review Panel report, due to be handed down in March;
    • Reviews into Queensland’s Child Safety procedures and practices by audit firm KPMG and former Director-General of the Queensland Department of Communities Linda Apelt;
    • A comprehensive review of Queensland’s Blue Card and foster care systems by the expert panel including Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnson and Foster Care Queensland CEO Bryan Smith, due to report to government mid-year; and
    • A review of Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect Team (SCAN) operations conducted by the QFCC

    Media contact:

    Premier’s Office                                   Geoff Breusch  0417 272 875

    Minister Fentiman’s Office                   Brooke Baskin  0400 774 303