Building an accountable, transparent and cost-effective system - Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services (Queensland Government)

Building an accountable, transparent and cost-effective system

Services provided to vulnerable children and families will be high-quality and provided in an efficient, transparent and accountable manner.

Designing new child protection laws for Queensland

The Queensland Government is committed to building a new child protection and family support system that meets the needs of children and families, now and into the future.

This system needs to be underpinned by a rigorous, contemporary legislative framework.

As recommended in the Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry final report, the Queensland Government has reviewed the Child Protection Act 1999.

Child Protection Reform Amendment Bill 2017

Over the last two years, the department has consulted with the Queensland community on proposed changes to child protection legislation.

As a result of this consultation, the Queensland Government has introduced the Child Protection Reform Amendment Bill 2017 in Parliament proposing priority changes (PDF) priority changes (DOCX, 59 KB)to the Child Protection Act 1999. These changes aim to achieve:

  • permanency and stability for children in out-of-home care and after-care
  • greater focus on the safe care Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and connection with their families, cultures and communities
  • clarity around the sharing of information.

For more information go to www.communities.qld.gov.au/childsafety

Child Protection Reform Amendment Act 2014

Amendments made to the Child Protection Act 1999 (PDF) provide the legal framework for sharing information about child protection concerns. These changes to the legislation (PDF) changes to the legislation (RTF, 86 KB) achieve the following outcomes:

Consolidation of mandatory reporting requirements

Changes to the mandatory reporting requirements have clarified when a report must be made to Child Safety about a child.

Mandatory reporters including teachers, police, doctors, nurses and early childhood education and care professionals must now report to Child Safety a reasonable suspicion that a child has suffered, is suffering or is at unacceptable risk of suffering significant harm caused by physical or sexual abuse and may not have a parent able and willing to protect them from the harm.

Mandatory reporters may still report to Child Safety a reasonable suspicion a child may be in need of protection where the harm or risk of harm relates to any other type of abuse or neglect.

Clarification of the definition of ‘a child in need of protection’

The definition of when a child is in need of protection is clarified within the Act as ‘a child who has suffered, or is at risk of significant harm and has no parent willing and able to protect them’ from harm. The change provides a clearer guideline on what constitutes significant harm, and reduces the number of families who are unnecessarily reported to Child Safety.

New child death case review process

An independent and multidisciplinary Child Death Case Review Panel reviews the deaths and serious injuries of children known to the department within one year of the incident and in other cases as required.

Information sharing

The changes allow other prescribed entities to share relevant information about children and families with service providers such as Family and Child Connect to help prevent problems from escalating to a point that requires Child Safety intervention.

Complaints handled by the relevant departments and Ombudsman

Child protection system complaints are investigated by the relevant department delivering services to children and families, with oversight by the Ombudsman, to allow more timely resolution of complaints.

Improved Childrens Court processes

The changes give Chief Magistrate powers, functions and associated responsibility to ensure that Childrens Court matters, including child protection, youth justice and adoption matters are dealt with by magistrates and justices of the peace in an efficient and orderly manner. The changes also facilitate the development and implementation of a judicially-led case management system.

Public Guardian Act 2014

The Office of the Public Guardian provides individual advocacy services for vulnerable children and young people, and oversees the community visitors program for children in out of home care, youth detention, corrective services and mental health facilities.

For more information, visit the Office of the Public Guardian website.

Family and Child Commission Act 2014

The Queensland Family and Child Commission provides systemic leadership, research and oversight of the child protection system in Queensland. The commission, which reports directly to the Premier, also promotes family responsibility and maintains a register of all child deaths in Queensland.

For more information visit the Queensland Family and Child Commission website.

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Increasing accountability and transparency

Child death case review process

The Child Death Case Review Panel provides an external independent review for deaths and serious injuries of children known to the department, within one year of the incident, and in other cases as required.

Each panel includes experts from relevant fields and senior officers from both the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services and other government departments. At least one member of every panel is an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person.

The findings from the review panels provide the department with information about the quality of services provided to children, young people and families, and identifies opportunities for strengthening the system.

The second Queensland Child Death Case Review Panels Annual Report 2015-2016 (PDF) Queensland Child Death Case Review Panels Annual Report 2015-2016 (RTF, 394 KB) has been released and provides a summary of findings from 13 Child Death Case Review Panels conducted during the 2015-2016 reporting period. The report also highlights actions taken by the department in response to the findings.

Consistent accreditation and licensing standards for all residential care services

Accreditation and licensing requirements have been enforced to ensure that all funded residential care services are subject to the same level of oversight.

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Enhancing complaints management

We respect the right of individuals to give feedback on our actions, services and products.

In response to recommendations of the Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry, we have strengthened our complaints management system and processes to:

  • improve accessibility and usability for children and young people
  • improve public confidence in our responsiveness to complaints
  • ensure our complaints management system continues to comply with national standards.

In reviewing its complaints management system, the department collaborated with representatives from government, non-government and peak agencies, service providers, and children and young people to identify challenges facing children and young people in making a complaint.

Four key themes emerged from the review that affected the ability of children and young people to make a complaint:

  1. Awareness of how to make a complaint.
  2. Confidence to make a complaint.
  3. Communication with the young person during the complaints process.
  4. Responsiveness of the complaints process.

The review prompted the department to consider how its complaints management system could become more child friendly, including options for young people to contact the department through text messaging and online web chat.

The department has improved its complaints management policy and procedures to become more people-focused and encourages a proactive approach to responding to issues and complaints at the appropriate level according to their complexity.

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Is your feedback

Please submit your comments on the department's Compliments and Complaints section.

Please submit your comments on the Queensland Government website Contacts form.