Child safety shock: CQ has more at-risk kids than Brisbane

21st March 2017 6:00 AM
the little girl is afraid 23 new child safety staff have been announced for Central Queensland. Choreograph

CHILD Safety Minister Shannon Fentiman has announced 23 extra staff for Central Queensland's family support services.

Her moves comes two weeks after the death of a six-month-old Yeppoon boy.

The infant died in Rockhampton Hospital earlier this month, almost three months after the Child Safety department was warned the child was in a potentially dangerous home environment.

Police are continuing to investigate the circumstances.

The announcement promises the region will share in an additional $65 million of funding for Queensland and receive 23 additional staff out of 95 for the state.

Tenders for the funding are opening soon and this along with the procurement process will determine how much funding each location receives.

According to figures from the Department of Child Safety in September last year, 1,352 children were unable to live at home due to safety concerns in Central Queensland.

This figure has been slowly increasing since September 2015 when 1,311 children couldn't live at home.

In regards to these statistics, Central Queensland is made up of Emerald, Rockhampton, Gladstone, Bundaberg, Maryborough and South Burnett and has 118,500 residents under 18.

By comparison in September 2016, 916 children in Brisbane, which has an under 18 population of 223,000, were unable to live at home.

Children are required to be removed from their homes if a substantiation has been recorded, meaning a child or young person has been assessed to have suffered, is suffering, or is at unacceptable risk of future significant harm.

Ms Fentiman said the bolstered support services will aim to address a wide range of issues that lead to compromised child safety.

"We know that families have diverse needs and its vital these services are as responsive as possible to help keep families together safely,” she said.

"For example, services can support families to work through issues relating to domestic and family violence, drug and alcohol misuse to mental illness and parental history of childhood trauma.”

Keppel MP Brittany Lauga, whose electorate covers Yeppoon, welcomed the funding and said the improved services would hopefully help families before their issues get out of hand.

"I am delighted our community will benefit from the roll-out of support services that work closely with some of our families before they reach crisis point,” she said.

"These services work with families willing to access help so their problems don't escalate to the point of needing contact with the child protection system.”

The Shadow Minister for Child Safety Ros Bates called on Ms Fentiman to answer the question of backlogs in Rockhampton following the Yeppoon infant death.

"Family support services are being flooded with calls for help as the child safety department pushes more cases down into these services,” Ms Bates said.

"We need to ensure families are being adequately triaged and question whether family support services should be self-referral.”