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Changes to child protection

The Queensland Government is transforming the state's child protection system to help families care for their children and make Queensland the safest place in Australia to raise a child.

Over the next 10 years, government and non-government sectors, including peak bodies, service providers and communities, will work together to:

  • build a new child and family support system with a greater focus on supporting families to provide a safe home for their children
  • deliver the best outcomes for all Queensland children and their families
  • shape a more accountable, transparent and cost-effective child protection system for Queensland.

The new system will be based on the recommendations outlined in the Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry —Taking Responsibility: A Road Map for Queensland Child Protection.

These improvements will be made through the Supporting Families Changing Futures Reform Program, which aims to:

  • reduce the number of children and young people in the child protection system
  • revitalise frontline services
  • refocus on learning, improving and taking responsibility for a better child protection system.

Contents

The Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry

Commission of Inquiry findings and final report

Child Protection Reform Roadmap

Government response

The Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry

The Queensland Government established the Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry (the Commission of Inquiry) on 1 July 2012 to review if the Queensland child protection system was best supporting vulnerable children and young people. The Commission of Inquiry was led by the Honourable Tim Carmody QC.

The Commission of Inquiry was charged with:

  • reviewing the entire child protection system, and making affordable, sustainable, deliverable and effective recommendations for legislative and operational reforms
  • charting a roadmap for achieving a new child protection system over the next decade.

Commission of Inquiry findings and final report

The Commission of Inquiry released its final report —Taking Responsibility: A Road Map for Queensland Child Protection to the Queensland Government in July 2013.

Although a lot of hard work, good intentions, and large amounts of money were invested since 2000, the Commission found that the Queensland child protection system didn't ensure the safety, wellbeing and best interests of children as best it could. The 3 reasons identified for this that were:

  1. more money needed to be spent on early intervention to support vulnerable families
  2. a widespread risk-adverse culture that focuses too heavily on coercive instead of supportive strategies and overreacts to (or over compensates for) hostile media and community scrutiny
  3. a tendency from all parts of society to shift responsibility onto (the department of) Child Safety.

The Commission of Inquiry also found that over the past decade:

  • child protection intakes have tripled
  • the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care has tripled
  • the number of children in out-of-home care has more than doubled
  • children in care are staying there for longer periods
  • the budget for child protection services has more than tripled, going from $182.3 million in 2003–04 to $773 million in 2012–13.

Child Protection Reform Roadmap

The Commission of Inquiry's report has 121 recommendations and includes the Child Protection Reform Roadmap (the roadmap), which details how the reform process should be actioned.

The roadmap groups the recommendations into actions under 3 strategies:

  1. Reduce the number of children and young people in the child protection system
  2. Revitalise child protection frontline services and family support, breaking the intergenerational cycle of abuse and neglect
  3. Refocus oversight on learning, improving and taking responsibility.

The goals of the roadmap is:

  1. for parents and families to protect and care for their children
  2. where there are no acceptable alternatives, children and young people are taken into care and protected and cared for.

The Commission of Inquiry saw that strong collaborative partnerships between the government and the non-government sector was needed to action the roadmap:

"Implementing the roadmap should not be the responsibility of Child Safety alone.

All agencies providing human services must take responsibility for child protection outcomes. The roadmap includes designated activities to be performed by other government agencies and the non-government sector."

Government response

The Queensland Government considered the merits and impacts of each recommendation and released its response to the report in December 2013 (Queensland Government response to the Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry final report). The Queensland Government accepted 115 of the Commission's recommendations in full and the remaining 6 recommendations in-principle.

The Queensland Government has committed $406 million in new funding over the 5 years from 2014-15 to 2018-19 to implementing the Commission of Inquiry child protection reforms.

Last modified: 
22 July 2016