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If this was the flu, we would call it an epidemic

by PeakCare Qld. on 14th August 2012

Home -> Articles -> 2012 -> August -> If this was the flu, we would call it an epidemic

Public hearings by the Child Protection Inquiry commenced this week with the release of some astounding figures. We have now reached the point where the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services is projecting that 23.8% - nearly one quarter - of Queensland’s children will be known to Child Safety Services during 2012-13. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, this figure is an alarming 62.5%.

If there were these numbers of children contracting the flu, we would be calling it an epidemic!

Clearly, the child protection system as it is currently constructed is not sustainable. These figures scream out for a massive re-think and re-shaping of the system.

In presenting evidence to the Inquiry, Mr Brad Swan from the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services explained that, in keeping with requirements of the Child Protection Act 1999, the Department’s interventions in the lives of families is based on establishing that parents are “unwilling and/or unable” to safely care for their children. This raises questions in my mind about how many parents are “willing” and “would be able” if the right range and type of services and support were made available to them at the times when this support is most needed.

The Inquiry also heard about early indications of promising results being achieved by early intervention services associated with the Helping Out Families (HOF) initiative in the south-east corner of the State in reducing notification and re-notification rates.

Other matters raised during the public hearings included a proposal to extend mandatory reporting requirements to clergy and personnel from other faith-based organisations. In her opening statement to the inquiry, counsel assisting Kathryn McMillan SC said that “the jury was still out on the merits of mandatory or voluntary reporting due to a lack of data”.

Ms McMillan said the commission was now seeking submissions from the clergy and other faith-based organisations on the issue of reporting suspected abuse.

The commission also heard from the Department that the average cost of accommodating children in residential care amounted to around $200,000 per child per year. This led Commissioner Carmody to query whether children would not be better off being enrolled in an exclusive private boarding school where they could have the added benefit of a good education.

We need to put our thinking caps on!

Have you got a view about any of the matters being addressed during the public hearings of the Inquiry? If so, enter your comments below – anonymously if you prefer – or email

Lindsay Wegener
Executive Director