Govt slammed over suicides
A DAMNING report has revealed child safety authorities may have directly contributed to the death of an abused Maryborough girl, who killed herself after the department ignored her pleas for help.
Felicia Goodson was 16 when she took her own life in 2009, just weeks after the suicide of her friend Zoe Gough, who was also known to Child Safety Services.
Child Safety Minister Phil Reeves had previously refused to release information on the girls’ cases for “privacy reasons”, but after mounting political pressure, copies of internal reports into the deaths were released late yesterday.
A Child Death Case Review Committee report into Felicia’s death revealed Child Safety Services did not believe her repeated claims she was being abused.
In the last contact before Felicia’s death, a case worker filed a report saying she was “not in need of protection”.The committee’s investigation found Child Safety Services had numerous opportunities to protect Felicia, but did not respond “appropriately or in her best interests”.
“The committee is of the opinion that the lack of service delivery provided to the subject child by multiple agencies within the service system, in particular the inaction of Child Safety Services in responding to the subject child’s disclosures of abuse and requests for support, was directly linked to [deleted]’s death,” the report states.
The report says Felicia continued to experience abuse and she may have been placed at further risk of harm due to sub-par assessments by case workers, a decision not to provide ongoing intervention to the family, and an eight-month delay in completing paperwork.
The Queensland Police Service also came under fire, with the committee finding there had been a “significant” delay in police advising child safety authorities about charges laid against Felicia’s abuser.
A separate report into the suicide of Zoe Gough also found the department failed to intervene and did not provide the young mum-of-two with adequate support and protection.
Shortly after the girls’ deaths, Child Safety Services carried out internal reports concluding that the findings should be circulated among staff to “allow critical discussion and reflection on learnings”.
However, the Child Death Review Case referred the matter to the Crime and Misconduct Commission and sparked an independent review.
An external investigation agency was critical of several staff members who worked with Felicia, leading to the demotion of one; and another worker being “removed from front-line services”.
A third staff member resigned shortly after the deaths and no further action was taken, while another was cleared of any wrong-doing.
The committee ruled in Zoe’s case there was no further action required.
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