By Marjorie Voss OAM
NCWQ Child & Family Adviser
Child abuse is nothing new and we trust the Authorities to look after the children who are at risk. However in the latest episode of Child Abuse I feel that we must all be shocked and horrified that a little child like Mason Jet Lee should be allowed to suffer and die from such horrific injuries.
He could not speak for himself or defend himself…..he had nobody to see what he was suffering. The only chance he had of survival was when, it has been stated, his Aunt notified Authorities that he was living in squalor with his mother……nothing was done as supposedly Authorities had no address for the mother. He did have a second chance when he was admitted to hospital with injuries, but was sent “home” to be abused again, even though the doctors notified Authorities of their concerns.
What can we do to stop such Child Abuse happening in our so-called civilized communities? It would seem that the Authorities follow directions but are not prepared to “step out of the box” when they are notified of such outright abuse. Why was the situation not followed up by the Hospital? It appears that the clinicians fulfilled their duties to report Mason Jet Lee’s injuries to the Child Safety Department before his release. Why was nothing further done?
We have been told that a separate, independent investigation has been launched. How long will this take and how many more children will be abused and or die before changes are made?
I feel that in this instance all NCWQ affiliated groups and members must stand up and demand that more protection should be given to children at risk. Young children are not able to ask for help so we need to help them. We need to be aware of what is happening in our neighbourhood.
There has been a recent case in Queensland of 2 girls aged 12 and 14 whose parents have now been charged with rape and sodomy. One of the girls eventually alerted a friend to what was happening. How long had this been going on?
A report has just been released from the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services stating that the Queensland Government has committed to building a new child and family support system over the next 10 years that will have a greater focus on supporting families to provide a safe and secure home for their children. To deliver the reforms they will focus on seven key areas:
- Sharing responsibility for children’s safety and wellbeing…..Caring for children and keeping them safe will be a shared responsibility. Government, non-government agencies, communities, businesses and industry are working together to deliver the right services families need to raise children who are safe, well, healthy and supported.
- Supporting families earlier….Vulnerable families and children will have access to high-quality services at the right time to help them to maintain the family unit. Children and young people will be at the centre of the new system, with supported and supportive parents, families, communities.
- Working better with families in contact with the child protection system…Child protection practice will be focused on engaging with families earlier and where appropriate, keeping children safely at home.
- Meeting the needs and requirements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, families and communities…Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families will have access to culturally appropriate Indigenous-specific and mainstream services and care.
- Improving out-of-home care and post-care for children and young people… Where there are no acceptable alternatives, children and young people will be taken into care, and protected and cared for. In care, they will receive the support they need to enjoy their childhood, feel safe and cared for, and develop into adulthood.
- Delivering quality services to children and families through a capable, motivated workforce and client-focused organisations…Vulnerable children and families will receive quality services from a highly skilled, capable and professional workforce across government and non-government family and child sectors.
- 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.
The reforms appear to focus on helping families to better care for their children. Will it work or will there be families who are just not interested in caring for their children and will continue to allow abuse to take place?
I urge everyone who is interested in the welfare of families and children to continue to monitor what is happening and follow “supporting families changing futures……Providing the right services at the right time for families in need” on their website.