Complete overhaul: Cops in department under LNP plan


POLICE officers would be embedded in the Child Safety Department and mandatory drug testing would be carried out en masse under a hard-line overhaul to protect ­children under a Frecklington Government.

After days of LNP sniping over her job, Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington will today step up to fight for her political future and for the premiership as she reveals a major policy set to kick off her campaign to take the state.

In the wake of shocking revelations around the tragic Mason Jett Lee case revealed by the coroner this month, Ms Frecklington has declared to Queenslanders: "If I were Premier, it will be a priority to keep our kids safe."

Renamed the Child Protection Force, the new-look Child Safety Department would be modelled on the ­accountability structures within the Queensland Police Service and child protection workers would be aided by a new squad of police investigators who'll support the most high-risk cases.

And Child Safety officers would work 24 hours a day under a roster of eight-hour shifts across seven days, leaving them ­better able to respond to ­trauma outside the official 9am-to-5pm work day.

Ms Frecklington said the new police team would be sent in immediately if she won the October 31 election to deal with a backlog in cases, and would remain embedded with the department to work with Child Safety workers on high-risk cases.

They would overhaul investigation procedures for high-risk cases - particularly under-5s - and their presence would mean that police could get involved in situations ­earlier, before serious harm was perpetrated.


Queensland Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington is seen during Question Time at Parliament House yesterday. Picture: AAP Image/Glenn Hunt
Queensland Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington is seen during Question Time at Parliament House yesterday. Picture: AAP Image/Glenn Hunt


"Too many kids are dying or suffering severe harm under the current system and that has to change," Ms Frecklington told The Courier-Mail.

"I make no apologies for my tough stance. Kids must be protected at all costs.

"The legacy of little Mason Jett Lee must be one of sweeping change to the child safety system that failed him.

"Sadly, Labor's Child Safety system is still failing to ­protect vulnerable children and I'm determined to overhaul it from the top down.

"Leaving vulnerable children in homes of abuse can be a death sentence."

The major policy announcement comes as sources described a "stalemate" had developed between the two wings of the LNP - state MPs and party officials ­unhappy with Ms Frecklington's performance.

Party sources yesterday suggested that LNP president Dave Hutchinson, who MPs have blamed for damaging poll leaks, could resign after the dust had settled.

There are no moves by him to leave now and not enough support to remove him in an extraordinary meeting of the state executive.

He has already foreshadowed he could quit over his work for Clive Palmer if the LNP's political rival announces he will run candidates in the upcoming poll - a decision expected within the month.

It's hoped that the week's distractions - which forced a show of unity that included frontbencher David Crisafulli finally ruling out a ­leadership challenge - can be left behind as Ms Frecklington outlines today's big-picture policy. It includes random, mandatory drug ­testing across all families known to Child Safety to screen for ­serious drug use and more adoptions for children under three

Those who return a positive result for serious drugs, but not marijuana, will be made to participate in a drug rehabilitation program so parents can get support to break the addiction.

Parents who fail a second test will lose their children.

A $4 million two-year trial would extend payments to foster carers to support kids until their 21st birthday, up from 19 currently.

There would be a greater use of adoption, particularly for children aged three and younger.

New performance reporting for all regional child safety service centres would increase transparency and accountability for senior executives and frontline staff and mandatory reporters like teachers and nurses would undergo new training focused on identifying the behaviours that signal children are at risk.

The overhaul comes after the state coroner delivered a scathing report into Mason's tragic case this month, in which 21 child safety officers were singled out for comprehensively failing the toddler.

Ms Frecklington said the avoidable tragedy had exposed fundamental failures in the department and further cases of shocking child neglect showed gaping cracks in the system remained.

"The cycle of tragedies, inquiries, and failures must end," she said.

"It's time to act and that's what an LNP Government will do."



Originally published as Complete overhaul: Cops in department under LNP plan