New child death review panel driven by slain boy's memory
A NEW, independent panel will be established to review the deaths of children known to the child protection system.
Tragic cases such as that of slain Caboolture toddler Mason Jet Lee were revealed to have had child protection service involvement in the lead up to the death.
William Andrew O'Sullivan was last year sentenced to nine years jail, with parole eligibility in 2022, after pleading guilty to the 2016 manslaughter of the 21-month-old boy.
Reports have also surfaced that four children and their mother who were killed in an horrific crash with a truck on the Bunya Highway last month were part of a family also known to child protection services.
Those concerns were raised in the wake of the crash, which police said was being investigated as potentially having been a deliberate act.
State Justice Minister Yvette D'Ath announced as a part of Tuesday's State Budget a $2.5 million investment to establish a new model for the child death review panel to ensure its independence.
"This forms part of the government's total package to deliver on our commitment to develop a new, independent model for reviewing the deaths of children known to the child protection system," Ms D'Ath said.
The move was welcomed by the Queensland Family and Child Commission, which recommended in a 2017 report the establishment of an independent body.
That report was sparked by Mason's death and was dedicated to his memory.
"Improvement of Queensland's child death case review system was needed, and this announcement will allow for a more contemporary system," a commission spokeswoman said.
Meanwhile, Child Safety Minister Di Farmer said the State Budget included funding for an extra 116 frontline positions over the coming three years.
"The new child safety officer positions are on top of the more than 450 new staff we have funded since 2015, including 93 this year," Ms Farmer said.
She said the budget included a total of $1.3 billion in 2019/20 to support the child protection system.
Domestic and family violence and sexual assault support services will receive $17.3 million as part of a range of measures aimed at overcoming gender inequality.
The measures also include $80 million for employers to take on at least 10,000 disadvantaged Queenslanders, including women.
Ms Farmer said gender inequality was still an issue for many women, with participation in social, economic and cultural life too often restricted by employment, cultural and language barriers, limited career options and violence.
Eliminating elder abuse was another key budget focus.
Seniors Minister Coralee O'Rourke confirmed a $2.8 million allocation for Seniors Legal and Support Services in Toowoomba, Hervey Bay, Cairns, Townsville, Rockhampton, Mackay, Gladstone, Bundaberg, Brisbane and the Gold and Sunshine coasts.
"These services are delivering for seniors in these communities and making a real difference in responding to, and preventing, elder abuse in Queensland," she said.