More than 2800 cases of suspected abuse in region
MORE than 2800 cases of suspected child abuse were flagged with authorities in the region covering Ipswich in the year to September.
The latest Department of Child Safety data for South West Queensland shows 2826 reports of alleged harm or risk of harm requiring investigation in the September 2016 quarter, with 914 cases substantiated.
This was 91 fewer reports than the 2917 recorded in the previous three months but 296 more than September 2015 for the region, taking in Ipswich, Toowoomba, Warwick and Roma.
The figures showed 1118 children on long-term protection orders in the region - one more than the June quarter and 32 more than a year earlier.
Across Queensland the proportion of investigations starting on time increased from 35% to 38% - the first improvement in three years - with 89% of those that were required to start within 24 hours doing so.
The figure for those with five and 10-day timeframes was 26%.
Response times for individual regions are not available.
Child Safety Minister Shannon Fentiman said the September 2016 data showed clear improvements on investigation times, despite an increase in the number of cases being investigated.
"We are beginning to turn the corner on these performance measures despite being busier than ever,” she said.
Ms Fentiman said the 129 extra child safety staff being hired this financial year would "go a long way towards further improvements”.
The first 100 of these staff are hired with the remaining positions to be filled by March.
Shadow child safety minister Ros Bates claimed leaked October data showed the child safety system was getting worse.
"Shannon Fentiman can spin the numbers but whichever way you look at it, more at-risk children are not being seen to within the required 24-hour timeframe,” Ms Bates said.
About the families Child Safety Services worked with:
- In about two thirds of households where there was harm or risk of harm to a child, at least one parent had a current or past drug/alcohol problem.
- Almost half the households had had domestic or family violence in the past year.
- About 45% had at least one parent who had been abused as a child.
- More than half had at least one parent with a criminal history.
- Almost half had at least one parent diagnosed with a mental illness.
Source: Department of Child Safety 2015-16 statistics