Secret report: Govt knew about Mason staff failings for years


A SECRET report has exposed how the Palaszczuk Government knew for years that Child Safety officers charged with protecting Mason Jet Lee didn't sight him at crucial times but failed to sack them.

The internal report, written in the aftermath of the toddler's death but released only tonight, has revealed that because comprehensive and repeated failures by staff were not properly recorded and deemed "systemic", that no individuals could be held accountable.

The Child Death Case Review Panel report, provided to the Palaszczuk Government more than three years ago, highlights the haphazard response to Mason's family fed by inadequate supervision, communication and management and high staff turnover.

"According to case records, Mason was not seen at crucial times, despite the significant medical issues that lead to his hospitalisation for some time," it found, adding the department didn't even know of Mason's existence until three months after it was notified of his mother taking and selling drugs out of the house in which she lived with her children.

It found the department was responding to crisis after crisis, rather than any plan for the family that considered the cumulative effect of physical, emotional and sexual abuse, neglect, medical neglect and poor supervision.

Mason Lee died in horrific circumstances after being failed by all those who were supposed to care for him.
Mason Lee died in horrific circumstances after being failed by all those who were supposed to care for him.

No one had clear responsibility of the case at a "crucial time" when intervention was required, the report found.

And records of meetings, file notes regarding home visits and family contact and note take in the days leading up to Mason's death were incomplete.

The release of the internal report follows a scathing report issued by the Coroner last week that found 21 Child Safety officers involved in Mason's case failed "in nearly every possible way".

"It is difficult to find any step taken in this case that was carried out in accordance with policies and procedures and correctly documented," Coroner Jane Bentley wrote in her findings.

"The fact that the ESU found that 21 employees of the department involved in Mason's case (10 at CCSSC and a further 11 employees involved in intakes) failed to carry out their duties appropriately is indicative of the scale of the failure."

Despite that, no one has been fired over the case.

The Ethical Standards Unit investigated DOCS workers involved in Mason's case with allegations substantiated against eight officers.

Three quit, five were reprimanded, one had their pay cut and another was referred to the Crime and Corruption Commission for professional misconduct.

But Child Safety Minister Di Farmer has refused to say whether the further nine identified by the Coroner had been sacked or reprimanded in any way, instead insisting she will wait for the outcome of another investigation by the Public Service Commissioner announced last week by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

It now can be revealed the Child Death Case Review Panel report recommended no one be held accountable, and that internal disciplinary investigations "should take into account the whole picture of an employee's practice, rather than a single decision, action, or omission".

"The Panel observed a number of systemic problems evident in this case, which beset child protection systems in many jurisdictions," the report says.

"Therefore care must be taken in determining individual accountability.

"The Panel's report also outlines a number of concerns with office processes and case decisions.

"However, the Panel found that there was insufficient information available to determine that further action is required in relation to any individual worker."

Meanwhile, a confidential Queensland Health report tabled into Mason's treatment when he presented to Caboolture Hospital in February 2016 and was transferred to Lady Cilento Children's Hospital found their care of him was appropriate and followed best practice.

It found that notifications were made to child safety by staff at both hospitals when they treated him for significant medical conditions, including anal trauma.

Mason Lee's mother, Anne Maree Lee, was jailed for nine years.
Mason Lee's mother, Anne Maree Lee, was jailed for nine years.

In June 2016, Mason's stepfather Andrew William O'Sullivan struck the neglected boy so hard that his organs ruptured.

He refused to seek help and left him to die a slow and painful death over days.

O'Sullivan and Mason's mother Anne Maree Lee were each sentenced to nine years imprisonment over the 21-month-old toddler's manslaughter.

Originally published as Secret report: Govt knew about Mason staff failings for years