Independent review to begin this week

The State Government has appointed former District Court Judge Paul Rice to conduct a swift and thorough independent review into the protocols and reporting practices of the Department for Child Protection in relation to two recent cases involving teenage girls in
care.

Judge Rice will start work on the review from tomorrow and deliver a report back to the State Government on or before February 9, including any recommendations he may consider appropriate.

Minister for Child Protection Rachel Sanderson said she would now await the review findings.

“There is no doubt the details of these recent child protection cases are concerning and unacceptable – and that’s why we will be seeking answers via an independent review into the Department for Child Protection,” said Minister Sanderson.

“We rightly want to get to the bottom of these concerning cases and why I wasn’t informed until court sentencing.

“Given the seriousness of these cases, Judge Rice will swiftly report back his findings to the Government and any potential recommendations for implementation.

“Since coming into Government, we have been working hard everyday to ensure we improve outcomes for children and young people in care and their safely and wellbeing
remains our priority.”

CHILD PROTECTION INQUIRY TERMS OF REFERENCE

Background

On 14 September 2020, Matthew McIntyre (McIntyre) was sentenced in the District Court of South Australia for sexual offences committed against a 13-year-old girl who was, at the time of the offences, under the guardianship of the Chief Executive of the Department for Child Protection (the Chief Executive). The Minister for Child Protection (the Minister) was not informed of the offending until after the sentence was imposed.

On 10 December 2020, Philip McIntosh (McIntosh) was sentenced in the District Court for maintaining an unlawful sexual relationship with a different child (aged 13- 14 during the offending) who was also under the guardianship of the Chief Executive. The Minister was not informed of the offending until after the sentence was imposed.

The Attorney-General has appointed an independent reviewer (the Reviewer) to examine and assess whether there are operational weaknesses in the reporting procedures for the Department for Child Protection (the Department) for allegations of sexual offending against children and young people under the guardianship of the Chief Executive.

Terms of Reference

The Reviewer shall inquire into, and report to the Attorney-General on:

  1. An examination of the Department’s existing critical incident policies and procedures (and those in use since 2015) (the reporting procedures) for employees to report to their line managers alleged criminal conduct (about which they have become aware during the course of their employment) against a child or young person who is the subject of orders made under the Children and Young People Safety Act 2017 (SA) (critical incidents)
  2. Requirements for the line managers and executives of the Department to report critical incidents to the Chief Executive.
  3. Whether the reporting procedures satisfy the relevant recommendations made by the Royal Commissions, Inquests and Inquiries listed in Attachment 2, particularly the SA Royal Commission 2012-2013 Report of Independent Education Inquiry.
  4. An examination and assessment of the failures to apprise the Minister of the charges against McIntyre and McIntosh.
  5. A review into the adequacy of existing disciplinary processes for Departmental staff who fail to comply with their obligations under the reporting procedures.
  6. Any recommended improvement to the accountability of Departmental staff, particularly as to the sufficiency of available disciplinary measures.
  7. Any recommended changes to the reporting procedures.
  8. Recommendations as to any other matters that may arise during the course of the inquiry.

The Reviewer will provide the report on the inquiry to the Attorney-General by no later than 9 February 2021. For the purposes of carrying out this inquiry, the Reviewer will consult with the Department’s staff, interested parties or other persons as required.

Recent child protection reports, inquests, inquiries

• Layton, R. (2003) Our best investment: A state plan to protect and advance the interests of children (referred to as the ‘Layton Review’)
• Mullighan, E. P. (2008a) Children in state care commission of inquiry: Allegations of sexual abuse and death from criminal conduct (referred to as the ‘CISC Inquiry’)
• Mullighan, E. P. (2008b) Children on Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yanjunytjatjara (APY) Lands commission of inquiry: A report into sexual abuse (referred to as the ‘APY Lands Inquiry’)
• Debelle, B. M. (2013) Royal Commission 2012- 2013 Report of Independent Education Inquiry
• Allen, P. (2013) Measures to improve operations and culture of the Department of Education and Child Development
• Johns, M (2015) Inquest into the death of Chloe Lee Valentine: Findings of the State Coroner
• Schapel, A.E (2016) Finding of Inquest – Ebony Simone Napier
• Nyland, A.M. (2016) The life they deserve Child Protection Systems Royal Commission Report
• Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (2017)