Community groups to play greater role in child protection

COMMUNITY organisations in regional Queensland will be able to address initial child protection concerns by 2015 instead of sending families straight to the Child Safety Department.

And Regional Child Protection Service Committees also will be established throughout 2014 to ensure outcomes are achieved in specific areas.

The Queensland Government on Monday released its response to the state's Child Protection Commission of Inquiry - indicating it had accepted 115 of the 121 recommendations.

Child Safety Minister Tracy Davis said the overwhelming focus would be to support families and keep children from entering the child protection system.

"The need for more prevention and early intervention services was the clear direction set by Commissioner Tim Carmody," Ms Davis said.

"However, he stressed that it should not just be up to the government to fix the problem-the report is about taking responsibility and it's up to parents and the community to play their part if there is to be real intergenerational change."

Ms Davis said supporting vulnerable families to take proper care of their children in regional areas would come from improving the family support system statewide.

"These reforms will see an overhaul of child protection laws; improved oversight and monitoring of the entire system; and importantly reforms to help tackle the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people," she said.

"The introduction of community-based intake gateways will give families access to regional, community-based referral points, who will work with families to figure out what help they need and arrange for the right services."

Ms Davis said the regional committees would ensure the family support services were co-ordinated in each area so families could access the help they needed through other pathways such as health services, education facilities or police.

"The committees will help to achieve regional goals and outcomes for children and young people and ensure that secondary services and other forms of support are evenly distributed across the state," she said.

"We will make it easier for families to get the support they need so that, wherever possible, children can remain at home."

Key recommendations the government accepted include:

- Increased role for the non-government sector

- Diverting families from the child protection system

- Supporting young people who have left care, until the age of 21

- Reducing over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children

- Amending legislation and the role of children and families in court

- Forming a new Family and Child Commission

- Increasing the use of boarding schools for children in care

- QPS will operate the Working with Children Checks (Blue Cards) scheme.

For more information about the government's response to the Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry Final Report, click here.