INDIGENOUS mothers have labelled Queensland’s fractured child protection system “a stolen generation with another name” and are refusing to report domestic violence for fear their kids will be taken into care.
The Cairns-based Queensland Indigenous Family Violence Legal Service says a “war zone” relationship exists between the Department of Child Safety and far north Queensland indigenous communities, which is feeding domestic violence because mothers aren’t reporting shocking incidents of household assault for fear of instant child removal.
FIVE children have spent years in state care because the Child Safety department failed to review paperwork that could have allowed them to return to their parents’ home, the Carmody inquiry has heard.
The inquiry into child protection yesterday heard disturbing allegations child welfare workers did not do follow-up work to determine if the parents of the five children had become fit and proper parents.
Rebekah Bassano, solicitor with the Queensland Indigenous Family Violence Legal Service, told the inquiry she was familiar with the case of the children, who were removed from one north Queensland indigenous couple over the course of nine years.
When Ms Bassano this week requested details of the annual review paperwork that determines the progress of the parents, and whether the children could return to their care, she was told that none was available.
Under cross-examination from Counsel Assisting, Ryan Haddrick, Ms Bassano said if the paperwork had been done, it was possible that all five children could now be living safely with their parents instead of being spread across five foster families.
“So, for all you know, eight years ago there should have been a review and that review could have determined they didn’t need protection?” Mr Haddrick asked.
“Yes,” replied Ms Bassano.
“The children could have been returned home, but nobody reviewed the case,” Mr Haddrick said.
“So you are suggesting the department itself doesn’t understand its own obligations?”
“That’s right,” Ms Bassano replied.
“How would you describe that situation?” Mr Haddrick said. “Appalling,” Ms Bassano answered.
The parents were still trying to get their children back.
The $9 million inquiry is set to resume in Brisbane on Monday.