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    JOINT STATEMENT
    Premier and Minister for Trade
    The Honourable Peter Beattie
    Minister for Child Safety
    The Honourable Desley Boyle

    QUEENSLAND CHILD PROTECTION GETS $5M BOOST

    JOINT STATEMENT

    Premier and Minister for Trade
    The Honourable Peter Beattie

    Minister for Child Safety
    The Honourable Desley Boyle

    Sunday, February 04, 2007

    QUEENSLAND CHILD PROTECTION GETS $5M BOOST

    Child Protection in Queensland has been given a $5 million boost to continue tackling a backlog in cases and ease the pressure on child safety staff.

    Premier Peter Beattie and Child Safety Minister Desley Boyle said the additional funding was a further example of the Government’s commitment to child protection in Queensland.

    “This injection of funds will provide additional child safety officers to continue the important work of finalising cases,” Mr Beattie said.

    “$3 million will be made available in 2006-07 for a further major assault on backlog cases, and an additional $2 million will be provided in 2007-08 to continue the work of records officers.

    “While all urgent cases are investigated within 24 hours and action taken to protect children, there are still too many other cases yet to be finalised.
    “We have previously funded special backlog teams at a cost of $2 million, and progress has certainly been made.
    “In the last eight months, we have seen a 37 percent drop in the number of cases not finalised, from 12,699 in April 2006 to 7,977 last month.
    “But as a Government we won’t rest until there is no backlog and this further funding will provide extra resources to take us closer to this goal,” he said.
    Ms Boyle said when the new Child Safety Department was created in 2004 it inherited a backlog of cases, and a growing awareness of child abuse also saw workloads increase.
    “The backlog has been, and in some offices remains, one of the stresses our workers have had to carry. It has also contributed to case loads that are too big,” Ms Boyle said.
    “Staff in centres where the backlog has been conquered tell me it is a huge relief and that it is a very different job working a case load that is up to date.
    “One Child Safety Officer even referred to no more backlog as ‘Nirvana’”
    “I want to congratulate the Child Safety Service Centres that have already cleared their backlog or are well on the way.
    “For instance in December 2006 Inala, Pine Rivers, Chermside, Sunshine Coast North, Beaudesert, Alderley, and Gympie had all cleared their outstanding investigations.

    “Those offices within 50 cases of their target include Wynnum, Innisfail, Gladstone, Sunshine Coast South, South Burnett, Bowen, Redcliffe, Cairns South, Caboolture, Fortitude Valley, Toowoomba North, Loganlea, and Woodridge.

    “But I want all our offices to have the stress of backlog cases removed.

    “This extra $3 million will employ additional temporary senior child safety officers, team leaders and admin staff who will focus exclusively on finalising outstanding cases.

    “Child Safety workers will also welcome the news that records officers will stay on in their important roles.
    “The temporary funding for records officers was due to run out in June this year but a further $2 million in funding will extend their time and allow their valuable work to continue.
    “The record keeping officers are important for a number of different reasons.
    “One of the criticisms I’ve read over and over of the department’s performance has been that record keeping has been sadly inadequate.
    “Additionally, many of the children who become known to us are from transient families. We need to be sure we can transfer information quickly and completely from area to area.
    “Importantly, dedicated records staff will ensure that decisions are being made based on accurate, up-to-date information.
    “Further, our child safety officers have enough to do managing their cases and so these record keeping officers will take some of the pressure off them,” Ms Boyle said.

    Ends

    Media contact: 3224 7477 or 0419 025 326

    Sunday, 4 February 2007