Another increase in Child Safety staff for South West region

Published Tuesday, 04 July, 2017 at 01:04 PM

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

Child Safety services in Ipswich and the South West region will receive a boost with 38 additional Child Safety staff starting work in the region in the next two years.

This follows the 33 staff already employed in the South West region over the past year, making an increase of around 71 in the last two State Budgets.

Child Safety Minister Shannon Fentiman, visiting Ipswich today, said the additional staff would help to tackle increasingly complex Child Safety issues.

“The scourge of Ice is ravaging families in many parts of Queensland and the devastation it causes in families can put vulnerable children at great risk of harm,” Ms Fentiman said.

“We know here in the South West region 127 children were found to be in need of protection last year because they had a parent using ice,” she said.

“We know this is a huge problem for a lot of families, with more parents known to the child protection system using ice than abusing alcohol.

“That’s why we introduced tough new mandatory drug testing for parents who want to keep their children, and I make no apologies for being tough on parents who are doing the wrong thing.

“Since late last year, parents have been required to undergo drug testing for any Intervention with Parental Agreement – in particular for ice use – if they want to keep their children.”

Ms Fentiman said families experiencing violence were at higher risk of entering the Child Safety system and the Government was tackling the issue head-on.

She said a trial of embedding Domestic and Family Violence workers with Child Safety staff in the region had been showing promising results.

“One year on, a domestic violence worker from the Domestic Violence Action Centre is now working full-time between Ipswich North, Ipswich South and Springfield Child Safety Service Centres,” Ms Fentiman said.

“The specialist worker and child safety staff collaborate on vital steps like helping assess risks, holding family meetings and planning how to keep the children and family members’ safe.

“Families experiencing violence are at higher risk of entering the Child Safety system, and we are tackling these complex issues head-on.”

The Domestic Violence Action Centre received more than $1.2m last financial year to support Ipswich people affected by domestic and family violence.

Ms Fentiman said the investments in additional Child Safety staff were already bringing positive results.

“South West region was a priority allocation area when we hired 129 additional Child Safety staff across the state in 2016-17,” Ms Fentiman said.

“These new staff will be among almost 300 to be hired across the state over the next two years, the biggest injection of Child Safety resources in more than a decade,” Ms Fentiman said.

“Our Child Safety workers are amazing and are out there saving lives each and every day.

“Our figures show we are tracking in the right direction, and we know the new Child Safety workers will make a difference and drive improvements as they hit the ground,” Ms Fentiman said.

State Member for Ipswich West Jim Madden welcomed the injection of staff.

“We have already seen the new Child Safety staff in our region making a difference to vulnerable children,” Mr Madden said.

“Child Safety staff already do so much incredible work, and now they will have the extra support and backup they need to ease caseloads and focus their attention on some of the most at risk children and families,” Mr Madden said.

Ms Fentiman said additional South West region staff to be employed in 2017-18 would include at least 31 full-time equivalent positions, with the remainder to be employed in 2018-19.

“This investment of new staff is a game-changer that will make a real difference to the lives of vulnerable children,” Ms Fentiman said.


Media Contact:          Ron Goodman            0478 744 749