The latest Child Safety data released by the State Government shows that key investments to improve the system are having an impact in the South West region, BUT SADLY, ice use by parents is on the rise.
Child Safety Minister Shannon Fentiman released the new figures as part of the June 2017 quarterly data report, and says the hard work seems to be paying off for children at least.
An additional 129 additional Child Safety staff were employed across the region last year and the South West there’s been an 88% of most urgent cases seen within 24 hours, an increase from 82 per cent for the year ending June 2016. The minister says he data also shows an improvement to Child Safety officer caseloads at 18.1.
Ice use by parents continues to rise
Despite the continued improvement, ice use by parents continues to rise. In the year to June 2017 in the South West region there were 88 children who needed protection where one or both parents were using ice, compared to 77 in the year to December 2016.
Across the state:
– One in three children coming into care during the 12 months to June 2017 had a parent with a current or previous methamphetamine use recorded.
– Children whose parents used ice were more likely than other children who came into care to have a parent with a criminal history, have a parent with a mental illness, have experienced Domestic and Family Violence in the past year and be homeless.
– Where methamphetamine use was recorded, 47 per cent of children suffered from neglect as the most serious harm type, 37 per cent experienced emotional harm, 15 per cent had experienced physical harm and one per cent had experienced sexual abuse.
– 56 per cent of these children were aged under five.
The Minister says the improvements in the region occurred despite an increase in the number of reports child safety is receiving, with the number of reports in South West increasing by 1892 over the last 12 months.
“A further 38 staff will be employed to help bring down caseloads and ensure vulnerable children are safe. “In South West Queensland, we have more than 1635 children living in out-of- home care, and 1501 of those are living in family-based care.”
Families facing more complex issues
Minister Fentiman says improvement had continued across the state for the fourth consecutive quarter despite the increasing complexity of the issues facing vulnerable families.
“Drug and alcohol abuse, mental health and Domestic and Family Violence have all increased as risk factors where children were found to have been harmed, compared to four years ago This reflects the increasingly complex issues families and Child Safety staff are grappling with day-in day-out.”
“Issues including Domestic and Family Violence and ice use continue to be prevalent in too many homes. These are some of our most vulnerable children and they need the community to speak up for them.,”
Families in need of support can contact 13FAMILY.