Rise in cases of suspected child abuse flagged in CQ
THE number of families flagged with authorities as being suspected of child abuse in Central Queensland rose in the three months to September.
The latest Department of Child Safety data shows 1812 reports of alleged harm or risk of harm requiring investigation in the year to September 2016, with 756 cases substantiated.
This was 106 more reports than the 1706 recorded in the previous three months, but 197 fewer than September 2015.
There were 925 children on long-term protection orders in the Central Queensland region, covering Rockhampton, Gladstone, the Fraser Coast, Bundaberg and South Burnett.
The figures showed this was a slight increase on the 918 children on long-term orders in the June 2016 quarter and 40 more than a year earlier.
Across Queensland the proportion of investigations starting on time increased from 35% to 38% - the first improvement in three years - with 89% of those that were required to start within 24 hours doing so.
The figure for those with five and 10-day timeframes was 26%.
Response times for individual regions are not available.
Child Safety Minister Shannon Fentiman said the September 2016 data showed clear improvements on investigation times, despite an increase in the number of cases being investigated.
"We are beginning to turn the corner on these performance measures despite being busier than ever," she said.
Ms Fentiman said the 129 extra child safety staff being hired this financial year would "go a long way towards further improvements".
The first 100 of these staff are hired with the remaining positions to be filled by March.
Shadow child safety minister Ros Bates claimed leaked October data showed the child safety system was getting worse.
"Shannon Fentiman can spin the numbers but whichever way you look at it, more at-risk children are not being seen to within the required 24-hour timeframe," Ms Bates said.
About the families Child Safety Services worked with:
* In about two thirds of households where there was harm or risk of harm to a child, at least one parent had a current or past drug/alcohol problem.
* Almost half the households had had domestic or family violence in the past year.
* About 45% had at least one parent who had been abused as a child.
* More than half had at least one parent with a criminal history.
* Almost half had at least one parent diagnosed with a mental illness.
Source: Department of Child Safety 2015-16 statistics