CHILD SAFETY CRISIS: Our region the worst in Queensland
MORE than 1100 backlogged child safety cases in south-west Queensland have not been addressed by the Department of Child Safety, according to a leaked document.
An employee who works with a DOCS-affiliated agency in the South-West region and spoke on the condition of anonymity revealed under-staffing is crippling the department.
The person, who was concerned about sensitivities around child safety, said workers were forced to relegate cases deemed to be "less important".
"They'd be risk-managing things - they'd know who they can leave and who's not going to be as important," the person told The Chronicle yesterday.
"A lot of it comes down to staffing unfortunately. They're very short-staffed."
Leaked figures, taken from an internal child safety monthly intake report, show Toowoomba and south-west Queensland had the highest levels of backlogged cases in the state.
There were 864 cases of suspected child abuse at the start of October and 1129 at the start of November. Unresolved cases roll over into the next month's figures.
More than 90 per cent of suspected abuse cases from the South-West were also not investigated in the commencement time-frames allocated.
Embattled Child Safety Minister Shannon Fentiman hit out at the leaked statistics from the LNP, calling them "inaccurate" and "unreliable".
"The figures quoted by the LNP are inaccurate, incomplete and unreliable," Ms Fentiman said in response to the figures.
"We are in the middle of a reporting period.
"Our hard-working frontline staff have not even finished recording the actions they have taken to keep kids safe.
"Accurate data that includes the months of October will be published on schedule early next year."
Child Safety Opposition spokeswoman Ros Bates slammed the Minister, accusing her of "misleading" the public.
"Shannon Fentiman is either misleading the people of south-west Queensland or delusional if she's trying to claim the child safety system is not broken," Ms Bates.
"Every number is a child, a human being that is relying on a system that can't keep up," she said.
"In total more than 77% of all suspected abuse cases in south west Queensland weren't investigated within the recommended time-frames - something needs to be done, and it needs to be done now.
"These figures are a disgrace and they should be forcing the Minister into action, but they're not."
Ms Fentiman said the Palaszczuk Government has hired another 129 workers in the current financial year, adding to the 166 extra staff recruited in the last two years.