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    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Minister for Child Safety
    The Honourable Mike Reynolds

    REPORT TO CMC HIGHLIGHTS MAJOR CHILD PROTECTION REFORMS

    Minister for Child Safety
    The Honourable Mike Reynolds

    Friday, January 06, 2006

    REPORT TO CMC HIGHLIGHTS MAJOR CHILD PROTECTION REFORMS

    Sweeping improvements to Queensland's child protection system are detailed in a comprehensive report released today by the Queensland Government.

    The report, Progress in Reforming the Queensland Child Protection System, details the major reform achievements and changes flowing from the Crime and Misconduct Commission's (CMC) report into foster care in January 2004.

    Today's report, which meets the CMC's two-year reporting requirement, shows that 89 of 110 recommendations for reforming the state's child protection system have been completed and significant progress has been made on implementing the remaining 21.

    The report also details the strong performance of the government's new lead child protection agency, the Department of Child Safety, in the 12 months since its creation in September 2004.

    Child Safety Minister Mike Reynolds said the report pointed towards a positive future for Queensland's vulnerable children and young people, as the benefits of initiatives being implemented began taking effect.

    "We are two years into a three-year staged program of reform, and as evidenced by this report, child protection in Queensland has already been fundamentally transformed," Mr Reynolds said.

    "Protecting vulnerable children is the most difficult task entrusted to any government. However Queensland's most vulnerable young people now have a protection system that is more child-focussed, responsive and accountable than ever before - it is a system that produces the best outcomes for children," Mr Reynolds said.

    "Demonstrable improvements have been achieved for them through a wide range of new services aimed at supporting and enhancing their educational, health, social, emotional and physical wellbeing.

    "There is also a more diverse range of out-of-home care options to meet the needs and preferences of children, and the individual views of children in care are commanding greater attention in the revamped child protection system," he said.

    Mr Reynolds said that in particular the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their families had been carefully considered in all aspects of reforming the child protection system during the last two years. "The government has strengthened the Indigenous Child Placement Principle to better ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are cared for in a way that respects their culture and assists them to maintain their cultural identity. "To help do this, the department is currently recruiting more Indigenous carer families for abused Indigenous children who cannot live at home.

    "The department has also introduced new requirements that all carers, including relative or kinship carers, be regulated to meet minimum standards," he said.

    Mr Reynolds said he had no hesitation in saying that the old child protection system needed to be completely overhauled, and that was exactly what the State Government was doing.

    "Because of these changes, I am confident that vulnerable children and young people in this state who need our help are better protected, cared for and supported."

    Mr Reynolds said the report showed the agency had been bolstered by additional staff and funding, better practice, training and resources, improved accountability, greater support for foster carers, and more suitable placement options for abused children who could not live at home.

    "Even though staff numbers are well up on what they were two years ago, the department is continuing an aggressive push to fill positions with job advertisements appearing in this weekend's newspapers.

    "Queensland is the first state in Australia to create senior Child Safety Director positions in 10 state government departments. This initiative delivers a tangible whole of government approach to child protection.

    "In June 2004, the State Budget delivered a record operating budget of $272 million and a capital budget of $35 million. This was followed in June 2005 with a record 45.3 per cent increase that took the department's allocation to $395 million in expenditure - an increase of $123 million, with a further $59 million in capital," Mr Reynolds said.

    Details of the government's progress to deliver child safety reforms can be found on the Department of Child Safety web site at www.childsafety.qld.gov.au.

    Media Contacts: Karla Steen 3235 9236 or John Ross 3224 7081