Child safety minister Craig Crawford says frontline staff, experts and advocates will inform review
The residential care system housing Queensland’s most vulnerable children will undergo a review as the government responds to reports of abuse and neglect.
The state’s child safety minister, Craig Crawford, ordered the wide-ranging review on Monday and said it would canvass experts, advocates and frontline staff, before reporting back later in 2023.
“I’m deeply concerned by reports of alleged criminal behaviour, abuse and neglect in the residential care system,” he said in a statement.
“I encourage any care worker who is worried to immediately report any criminal activity to the Queensland police service.”
The Queensland families and children’s commissioner, Luke Twyford, will also be contacted by the minister to oversee the work of the review.
“I’ve particularly asked for a focus on how children aged under 12, First Nations children and disabled children are handled by the state’s residential care system,” he said.
A roundtable meeting will be held later in 2023 to discuss the review findings and possible actions.
The acting premier, Steven Miles, acknowledged there were not enough foster carers to cover demand, which meant relying on residential care providers contracted by the government.
He said all the children in their care had experienced tragedy in their lives and disputed suggestions of a significant overlap with youth crime.
“The fact is that of all of the children under the care of child safety, just 4% are also youth offenders,” he said.
“The actions of the [Liberal National party] at the weekend to use the tragedy of these children’s lives for their own political advantage is gross and disgusting.”
The opposition leader, David Crisafulli, had pledged to put an overhaul of the child safety system on the agenda during a speech at the LNP’s convention.
Crisafulli said the system was contributing to youth crime and that 58% of children interacting with youth justice had a recent history with child safety.
“The state government is the biggest parent in the state, with over 1,700 kids in out-of-home residential care,” he said on Sunday.
“Together with the best minds, we will chart a course designed to repair Queensland’s broken residential care system and start giving these kids a chance at a decent life.”