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    Minister for Communities, Women and Youth, Minister for Child Safety and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence
    The Honourable Shannon Fentiman

    Child Safety data shows ice an ongoing problem for families

    Minister for Communities, Women and Youth, Minister for Child Safety and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence
    The Honourable Shannon Fentiman

    Saturday, July 15, 2017

    Child Safety data shows ice an ongoing problem for families

    New Child Safety data released by the State Government shows the number of children in need of protection because of ice use by parents has risen.

    Child Safety Minister Shannon Fentiman revealed the new figures as part of the new March 2017 quarterly data report.

    The data shows the trend identified in 2016 is continuing, and an increased number of children have come in to care as a result of parental drug use.

    In the year to March 782 children needed protection as a result of one or both of their parents using methamphetamine, up from 749 children in the year to December.

    Ms Fentiman said the figures showed how rapidly Ice causes terrible damage to families and leaves vulnerable children at risk.

    “The data shows that the majority of children where parental ice use was recorded the parent had only recently started abusing the drug,” Ms Fentiman said.

    “This shows just how devastating this drug is and that is why we are doing so much to target the use of this particular drug so we can tackle the harm it is causing head-on.”

    A specialist ice advisor is being recruited to provide specific expert support and advice for Child Safety workers working to keep children safe.

    The new data also shows that in the 12 months to March 2017:

    • For 33 per cent of children admitted to ongoing intervention the Department identified methamphetamine use by one or both parents in the household. That is a total of 782 children.
    • Among these families, methamphetamine use was more common than abuse of any other drug, including alcohol. Ten years ago alcohol was the most abused substance, followed by marijuana and heroin.
    • In homes where methamphetamine use was identified, more than half of the children (55 per cent) were subjected to neglect. Almost a third (31 per cent) had suffered emotional harm and 13 per cent had suffered physical harm.
    • For 60 percent of children where parental Ice use was recorded, the families had recently begun using the illicit drug.

    Ms Fentiman said the introduction of mandatory drug testing for parents suspected of drug use and entering parenting agreements had given Child Safety officers another tool to keep vulnerable children in these households safe.

    “Ice use continues to be a problem and more parents are being tested so we can identify those families where Ice is causing harm,” Ms Fentiman said.

    “We make no apology for being tough on parents who do the wrong thing, and the latest data shows just how quickly ice use can cause terrible damage to children and families,” Ms Fentiman said.

    Since introduction of testing in November, more than 1000 tests were completed by parents. In June there were a record 214 tests carried out.

    The State Budget included $7.4 million over three years to support the Action On Ice initiative.

    Investment in frontline staff showing results

    The Palaszczuk Government’s investment in restoring frontline Child Safety staff is showing results, with the third consecutive quarter of improvement in key measures.

    Of the notifications received by the Child Safety Department, 92.1 per cent of them had an investigation commence, the highest proportion at any time since this data was first measured in 2009/10.

    The number of investigations commenced within the recommended timeframes also improved to 38.6 per cent, up from 37.8 per cent a year earlier.

    More than 90 per cent of investigations requiring a 24 hour response were commenced on time.

    Average caseloads for Child Safety Workers remain steady at 18.6 despite more children being in out-of-home care, reflecting the investment of 129 new Child Safety staff in 2016/17. The Palaszczuk Government has committed $200 million to hire almost 300 more child Safety staff over the next two years.

    Ms Fentiman said the March quarter performance data showed the investment in extra staff was having an effect.

    “We are seeing more notifications and more investigations completed, showing that our initial investment of 129 additional Child Safety staff is making a difference,” Ms Fentiman said.

    “We have invested $200 million to employ almost 300 more Child Safety staff to further improve our results and cut caseloads for our amazing staff.

    “The number of investigations we have commenced is up and the number commenced on time is also higher, despite staff working through more notifications.

    “There is still room for improvement, but these results show that our investment in more frontline Child Safety staff is paying dividends.

    “We expect the next quarter’s data to show more improvement, reflecting our ongoing investments in more Child Safety staff.”

    Vital community role in reporting

    The new data underlined the importance of a broad community effort to Child Safety, with referrals coming from a range of sources.

    Where parental Ice use was recorded, one in five referrals came from concerned family members, friends or neighbours, and similar proportions from Police or from Health providers. A smaller number of referrals came from schools.

    Ms Fentiman said this highlighted how important initial reporting is in keeping children safe.

    “The safety of our children is everyone’s responsibility and people who report concerns about a child could well be saving a life,” Ms Fentiman said.

    Anyone concerned about a family’s situation can contact Family and Child Connect for advice by phoning 13 Family or 13 32 64.

    New measures in this quarter’s data

    As part of the Palaszczuk Government’s commitment to transparency, this quarter’s data includes 11 new measures including:

    • Seven new measures about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children
    • Three new measures about carers who are long-term guardians; and
    • One new measure to track outcomes of investigations by reporter type, including mandatory reporters.

    “It is important to track the progress being made on these measures as we continue to invest in the complex job of keeping our children safe,” Ms Fentiman said.

    For more information on the March quarter data visit https://www.communities.qld.gov.au/childsafety/about-us/our-performance

    ENDS

     

    Media Contact:          Ron Goodman            0427 781 920