Extra child safety staff announced in State Budget

Published Tuesday, 11 June, 2019 at 08:30 PM

Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence
The Honourable Di Farmer

Minister for Child Safety Di Farmer said the 2019-20 State Budget includes an additional 116 frontline positions over the coming three years and continues funding for more than 5400 non-government organisation (NGO) positions.

“Keeping children safe across our state is only possible by working hand-in-hand with our NGO partners, which the government provides funding for more than 5400 positions,” she said.

“The new Child Safety Officer positions are on top of the more than 450 new staff we have funded since 2015, including 93 this year.

“Our investment has already seen average caseloads reduce to an average of 16.8 per Child Safety Officer.”

Ms Farmer said this budget included a total $1.3 billion in 2019-20 to support the child protection system through early intervention and continue the Support Families Changing Futures reforms.

“We want to help families safely care for their children and provide services when they cannot stay at home,” she said.

“Research shows that children do better when they are able to stay with their family, and we want this to happen whenever possible.

“That’s why we fund more than 5400 full-time equivalent positions in the non-government organisation sector so that families get the help and support they need, when they need it.

“Sadly the reality for many children is that their family is unable to care for them safely at home, and this funding will also help us provide and improve services for those children.”

Ms Farmer said the $1.3 billion would allow Queensland families, communities and services to be ‘child safe’ and to stop child abuse and neglect and will fund the delivery of parenting information and support services. 

“We are investing in family support, early intervention and well-being services delivered by non-government organisations so that more families have the opportunity to safely care for the children,” she said.

Ms Farmer said the government was continuing to implement the Supporting Families Changing Futures reforms with 2019-20 being the sixth year of a 10 year reform program.

“We have built a family support system that provides support for families earlier and helps prevent escalation to the child protection system,” she said.

“Additional funding of $369.4 million over four years, with a further $113.3 million reprioritised by the department, will continue to deliver this reform package.

“We will continue to invest in frontline services and create stronger networks of services and partnerships to support families who are vulnerable and keep their children safe and well, as well as improving the wellbeing for children in care.”

Ms Farmer said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were overrepresented in the child safety system and funding would be directed to help address this.

“$99.8 million over three years will be invested in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Family Wellbeing services to make it easier for families in communities across Queensland to access culturally responsive support,” she said.

“This will help families to heal by improving their social, emotional, and physical wellbeing and build their capacity to care for and protect their children.”

Other budget highlights include:

  • $196.5 million over three years for Intensive Family Support services to continue early intervention for families and parents;
  • $45.5 million over three years for Family and Child Connect services that help connect families to the right help at the right time;
  • $24.7 million over three years to support foster and kinship carer through non-government organisations;
  • $14.6 million over four years to implement new and enhanced initiatives under Our Way which aims to eliminate the disproportionate representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children by 2037;
  • $2.5 million over three years to continue and enhance the Next Step After Care program, supporting young people during and after transition to adulthood;
  • $9.6 million in 2019-20 to continue services provided by the Office of the Child and Family Official Solicitor to provide early, independent legal advice to child safety workers about child protection matters.

Ms Farmer said the department would also continue to implement recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the Queensland Family and Child Commission and other reviews.

Ms Farmer said the department would make sure Queensland children at risk or in care with disability get the support they need.

“Additional funding of $9.6 million in 2019-20 is being provided to continue support for children with disability in the child protection system following their transition to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and for children with disability who required accommodation support,” she said.

Ms Farmer said $51.1 million would be invested over the next four years to deliver and support Stage 1 of the Unify Program which will be progressively implemented to replace the current IT system, Integrated Client Management System.

“The new four-year program will implement a contemporary case and client management system to enable the best outcomes for children, young people and their families,” she said. 

Additional funding of $7.2 million over three years from 2020-21 and $2.4 million per annum ongoing, as well as internally prioritised funding by the department will be provided to extend the foster and kinship carer allowance.

“This will mean young people can remain with their carers regardless of their education status, until they turn 19 years of age,” Ms Farmer said.

Media contact: Ali France 0447 117 132