media release

Government failure in child protection must end

“The tragic and shocking life and death of Baby Ebony is yet another example of a State Government Agency that repeatedly fails the children it is meant to protect,” said Shadow Minister for Child Protection Rachel Sanderson.


“It is almost inconceivable that given the history of violence, drug abuse and neglect surrounding around Baby Ebony her case could be closed within four months of her birth and just days before her death.


“Requiring an officer above the rank of Supervisor to authorise the closure of files where the child suffers physical harm, domestic violence is reported or the family are avoiding contact is a necessary step in better protecting children.


Mr Schapel’s recommendation of regular inter-agency liaison meetings between the various service providers and Families SA is another sensible mechanism to reduce the likelihood of children being left in dangerous circumstances.


“I also support the establishment of a national database for child protection cases to help prevent further tragedies.”


FINDING OF INQUEST
14.9. I recommend that in the following circumstances the closure of notifications and files within Families SA in respect of child protection matters should only be authorised by an officer superior in rank and position to that of Supervisor:
i) in cases where physical harm has been sustained to a child in respect of whom a notification has been made, or in cases where such physical harm has been reported;
ii) where domestic violence has occurred or has been reported within a family, where such domestic violence has not necessarily involved the specific child to whom the notification relates;
iii) in cases where there has been a reported disengagement by the family from health and other services which to that point in time have been provided.


14.10. I recommend that all other Families SA file closures be reported to an officer of higher rank than Supervisor as and when those files are closed.


14.18. I recommend that regular formal inter-agency liaison meetings occur as between the
various service providers and Families SA to discuss families at risk.