DOCS dodges crucial questions in wake of teen deaths

 

Answers on combating youth crime was not on the Child Safety minister's immediate agenda who said she refused to play politics on the history of teenagers who were killed in a crash while reportedly under state care.

Child Safety Minister Di Farmer has refused to answer questions about the children killed in Sunday's fatal crash at Garbutt after the Townsville Bulletin revealed some of the children were reportedly living in residential care homes.

Despite the Bulletin's multiple attempts, Ms Farmer did not confirm what interaction the department may have had with the teenagers or whether their care arrangements were adequate.

The group, aged between 13 and 17 years old, were killed when the alleged stolen car they were travelling in hit a traffic light pole about 4.30am Sunday morning.

The 14-year-old driver was remanded in custody on Monday.

Townsville Police confirmed the driver has previously been involved with police, with the Bulletin understanding he was on bail at the time of the offending.

Ms Farmer dodged the Bulletin's question about the driver, instead claiming she wasn't going to "play politics" despite Indigenous elders calling for immediate action on youth crime.

Uncle Russell Butler and Indigenous mentor Wayne Parker say it's too little too late from the State Government, after the death of four teens early on Sunday morning in an allegedly stolen vehicle. PICTURE: MATT TAYLOR.
Uncle Russell Butler and Indigenous mentor Wayne Parker say it's too little too late from the State Government, after the death of four teens early on Sunday morning in an allegedly stolen vehicle. PICTURE: MATT TAYLOR.

"This is an overwhelmingly sad and tragic set of circumstances that have cut short four young lives in Townsville," she said.

"The passing of a child is every parent's worst fear and one no parent should ever have to experience.

"I know North Queenslanders are resilient, but this awful incident has left the entire Townsville community in shock and in search of answers to the incomprehensible.

Di Farmer at parliament. Pic Annette Dew
Di Farmer at parliament. Pic Annette Dew

"Out of respect for the parents who are grieving the loss of their children and the impact this has had on the Townsville community, now is not the time to be playing politics.

"The protection and care of vulnerable children is everybody's responsibility - we all need to step up and play a part."

Children placed in care homes are among the state's most vulnerable and onsite care and supervision is provided around the clock, according to the State Government.

The Department of Child Safety states it is the responsibility of on-duty carers to make all reasonable attempts to contact or locate a young person if they go missing. If they are not found, police take over the investigation.

Earlier this year, Ms Farmer announced her government would make amendments to the Youth Justice Act to ensure tougher penalties for recidivist offenders.

She did not provide an update on this change when pressed by the Bulletin on Monday.

Originally published as DOCS dodges crucial questions in wake of teen deaths

People mourn at the site where four teenagers were killed in a crash. Picture: Alix Sweeney
People mourn at the site where four teenagers were killed in a crash. Picture: Alix Sweeney