Kids hurt, killed after being declared safe

MORE than 1500 Queensland children were harmed within a year of welfare workers dismissing alarms over their safety.

It can also be revealed that dozens of children living in dangerous homes died last year.

A record 1554 children in Queensland suffered abuse or neglect within a year of Child Safety deciding they were safe - despite police, neighbours, doctors or family members blowing the whistle on maltreatment during 2017-18.

And 555 Queensland kids were harmed within three months of Child Safety investigators giving the all-clear, The Courier-Mail can reveal.

Fifty-eight Queensland children who were known to Child Safety died last financial year.

Welfare workers had intervened or been "aware of the risk of harm'' to 14 children who killed themselves, six who were bashed to death or died of neglect, five who drowned, two who died of injuries by accidents and two who died of "transport-related'' causes in 2018-19, the Queensland Family and Child Commission says in its latest annual report.

Another 23 children known to Child Safety died of "natural causes''.


Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston
Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston


Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston blasted the fatalities as "simply unacceptable''.

"There needs to be a change of approach to what's happening to our wonderful children in Queensland because what's happening at the moment clearly isn't working,'' she said.

Opposition leader Deb Frecklington said the tragic deaths demonstrated a crisis in Labor's child safety system.

"The death of one child is one too many, but to have 58 deaths where they were known to the authority is completely unacceptable,'' she said yesterday.

"The safety and welfare of Queensland kids is paramount and an urgent overhaul of the system is needed.''

Child Safety fielded welfare notifications for two toddlers who died after being pulled unresponsive from a hot car in Waterford West, south of Brisbane, in November.

Their mother has been charged with their murders.

And welfare workers reportedly checked on four children whose deaths in a head-on car crash last May was investigated as a murder-suicide.

Damning new data from the Productivity Commission, to be published today, shows that 196 Queensland kids were harmed in foster care during 2017-18.

In the space of five years, more than 7000 Queensland kids who were deemed safe after a Child Safety check were harmed within 12 months of the initial all-clear.

Queensland's Child Safety Department takes more than a month to begin more than half its investigations - the highest of any mainland state or territory.


Child Safety Minister Di Farmer
Child Safety Minister Di Farmer


Queensland started barely a quarter of investigations within a week of a complaint - compared to 57 per cent in NSW, 75 per cent in Victoria and 78 per cent in Western Australia.

However Child Safety in Queensland is required to investigate every notification, while Victoria and NSW investigate about one in three complaints.

Queensland Child Safety Minister Di Farmer yesterday said the death of any child was a tragedy.

"At any point in time, there are around 92,000 children known to the department, and more than 12,000 children who are in care,'' she said.

"When a child who is known to the department dies or comes to serious harm, we have a robust two-tier review process … to make sure our child protection systems and processes are as strong as they can be.''

Ms Farmer said an increasing number of children taken into foster care had drug-addicted parents.

She said 39 per cent of children taken from their families last year had a parent using ice - an increase of one-third in just two years.

Ms Farmer said the Labor Government had hired an extra 600 Child Safety staff and spent an extra $738 million since 2015, but "we know there is still much to do''.

"Despite this record investment our system races increasing pressure,'' she said.

"Demand is increasing - we receive a call every four minutes about a child suspected of being at risk of harm, and there is increasing complexity in the family situations we are dealing with.''

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