Police accused of under-reporting child abuse

POLICE have been blamed for under-reporting levels of child neglect and abuse in a new child safety scandal in some of the state's most troubled townships.

The Family Responsibilities Commission (FRC) annual report, obtained exclusively by The Courier-Mail, details concern about the staggering rate of child safety notifications not being reported by authorities.

The report paints a stark picture of poverty and dysfunction in five indigenous communities - Aurukun, Coen, Hope Vale, Mossman Gorge and Doomadgee - operating under the $100 million Cape York Welfare Reform plan.

Minister Curtis Pitt says he is working with police on the process of referring cases to Child Safety.
FRC Commissioner David Glasgow told how eight years after the trial was launched to rebuild social norms, improve school attendance and restore local authority of elders, many troubling challenges remained in the five townships.

Mr Glasgow, in the report, said a major concern was the "significant, and as yet unsatisfactorily explained, reduction in the receipt of Child Safety and Welfare notices for the communities of Aurukun and Hope Vale - 75 per cent and 47 per cent respectively".

"The commission has been advised (by Child Safety Department) that they attribute the decline primarily to a change in QPS policy for reporting child concern matters."

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Minister Curtis Pitt hoped to resolve the sharp decline in referrals between agencies.

"Whether it is Child Safety or the QPS, having information held by one agency that is not passed onto other agencies is not unique. We're working with QPS on this referral process," Mr Pitt said.

Queensland's top child protection police officer detective Superintendent Cheryl Scanlon said new policy was behind the sharp fall in police referrals.

Under the new policy, police now only report to Child Safety Services if they suspect the child is at unacceptable risk of suffering "significant harm" and "may not have a parent willing and able to protect them from the harm".

The FRC report details a "challenging workload" with a total of 4254 notices with 2347 conferences held, 195 referrals made to service providers and 7.95 per cent of clients put on case plans as at June 30 2016.

FRC architect Noel Pearson said it was about adequate care of children, school attendance, paying the bills, putting food on the table and abiding by the law.

Local commissioner Loretta Spratt wants a bright future for the kids.

"We will not give up on our mob,'' she said.

- Cairns Post

News Corp Australia

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