Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Beattie's 'shame' on foster children

Child abuse will be a major issue at the next Queensland election after a damning audit of the state's Families Department found a chronic failure to properly investigate abuse. Queensland Premier Peter Beattie yesterday admitted he was "shocked and ashamed" after most cases of child abuse in foster care were shown to have been mishandled.

The audit, by child protection expert Gwenn Murray, reviewed 1060 child abuse notifications relating to various types of harm involving 1258 children since 1996.

Calling for major reform, Ms Murray said investigations into abuse were "overwhelmingly" poor and the children involved were often not believed.

"The department is dangerously becoming like one of the children for whom it has a statutory obligation," she said in the audit. "That is, like a neglected child."

The audit found the state's child protection system suffered from major problems, including a lack of resources and outdated techniques.

Among the findings, it said child protection officers had not bothered to interview children at the centre of abuse allegations in 28 per cent of cases. It also reported long delays in responding to allegations of abuse, and said signs of sexual abuse were often not identified.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were also "over-represented" in the foster care system and exposed to a higher level of abuse.

Beattie promised to fix the child protection system, saying it was a "day of shame" for Queensland children.

He accepted responsibility, but claimed his Government was the first to have the "guts" to face the issue head-on. "It confirms that the Government has got a lot of work to do to fix this, but fix it we will. And if we are re-elected we will spend the next term doing everything we can to fix it," Beattie said.

"There's no doubt that we need very decisive and clear leadership on this issue."

The audit came as the Crime and Misconduct Commission completed its draft report into the foster care abuse, which is expected to be released this week.

Families Minister Judy Spence brushed off Opposition calls for her to resign, saying that would be the "easy way out".

"I know that there are people in the community who will look for a quick fix, who will think that one resignation or one sacking would improve Queensland's child-protection system," Ms Spence said.

"But the reality is this is a complicated problem. It is a trite response to think that one individual overnight is going to make a difference."

By Fundamental Group Unit 16 December 03

THE CHICKEN: If Beattie is re-elected he will spend the next term doing everything he can to fix it!

THE EGG: What was wrong with fixing it this term? Like he had no knowledge of the problem? Or he needed a report to tell him to start fixing it? Why would you re-elect him after ignoring family values?


Jordan's death could have been prevented
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Queensland punishes disabled children kept in cages
TONY EASTLEY: Still in Queensland, and there are disturbing new allegations about disabled children having suffered extraordinary abuse in private residential care facilities.

But there are Keys!
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Valuing children now!
The 2001 legislation specified where a child could legally be hit, which only perpetuates the view that physical punishment is normal and a parent's right, Bernadette Saunders, of the Child Abuse and Family Violence Research Unit at Monash University, says.

Development problems hit 1 in 4 kids: study
Australian of the Year Fiona Stanley has described the results of a groundbreaking study into child development as frightening.

WHEN THE PUNISHMENT IS THE CRIME AND PLANTING THE SEED In New South Wales today if you get into trouble with the law you have little or no defence. Unless you're wealthy enough to get yourself a lawyer and even then the odds you will escape justice are minimal because of the infrastructure and resource of the government opposed to your Legal Aid Status. I am not saying Legal Aid cannot help you but I am saying they have become overworked and under resourced.

Zero Tolerance for Families
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Australia to tackle child abuse and rescue impoverished children?
A national report on child protection in the Northern Territory has blasted the system, saying it has abandoned the most impoverished children and families in Australia.

ATSIC call to smack kids?
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No-Smacking Day for Children in NSW
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NSW education professor warns further commitment needed
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Fiona Stanley, the children's crusader
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Alcohol is just the beginning
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The punishment: Is the 'crime'
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The Seed
Respect, you only get out what you have put in. What about Life Skills, Communication and Conflict Resolution. Evolution, perhaps some children and adults miss the whole or part of the course. I did, and so how surprised do you think I was when I realised my parents missed the course as well. Things like Compromise, Win Win, Empathy, and Love. Invisible energy and other skills like public speaking, how to Relate, Assuming, Blaming, Forgiveness, Freedom and Discrimination. This is how I learned respect. If you don't know what it is then how do you relate?