THREE Child Safety workers have been stood down and disciplinary action has been taken against 12 others following an initial review into the death of Queensland toddler Mason Jett Lee.
The 21-month-old was found dead by paramedics in a Caboolture home back in June. It’s understood he suffered horrific injuries and died from peritonitis.
In the weeks that followed, Queensland’s Health Minister demanded an investigation into the toddler’s death, after it was revealed he had been allowed to go home after being treated in hospital.
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The first stage of the Systems and Practice Review into the Department of Child Safety’s interactions with Mason and his family has been completed.
The initial outcome of the review, released late yesterday, found that staff may have breached legislation, standards, codes and procedures.
As a result, Child Safety Minister Shannon Fentiman said three staff members were stood down with pay by the Director-General and would not return to work pending the outcome of the investigation.
Twelve others have been referred to the Department’s Ethical Standards branch.
“I have always maintained that I will not wait for reviews to be finalised before taking action, if it is warranted,” Ms Fentiman said.
“This initial report has angered me and made it clear to me that disciplinary action is not only necessary, but must take place immediately.”
Ms Fentiman said staff would be redirected to the Caboolture Child Safety Service Centre from other regions while disciplinary processes are under way.
“In addition, child safety services in the existing North Coast region will be split into two and managed by two Regional Directors, instead of one, to strengthen supervision,” she said.
“I have requested my Director-General start work on the establishment of an additional Child Safety Service Centre in the Moreton Bay region to meet demand and we have commenced an overhaul of the Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect (SCAN) system.
“All Regional Directors have been instructed to immediately review supervision and management practices and increase training across the state.
“I have announced an extra 12 staff for the Caboolture office in the past year, including 2.5 new child safety officers just last month.”
Ms Fentiman said the report is now under the consideration of an independent, expert Child Death Case Review (CDCR) Panel, which has already been convened.
“There are numerous stages of this review process and the completion of the Systems and Practice Review is just the first step,” Ms Fentiman said.
“The CDCR Panel will consider the findings and make recommendations, all of which I have already committed to implementing.
“In an unprecedented act of transparency, I have also committed to making the final CDRC report public.
“Both reports will be considered by the Queensland Child and Family Commission in its oversight role looking at the way government agencies responded and interacted in this case.”
Ms Fentiman said the report has been provided to the ongoing police investigation and to the Office of the State Coroner.
“Mason’s death is a tragedy. I want no stone left unturned when it comes to finding out what happened, holding people to account for their actions and making changes to prevent this from happening again,” she said.
“Criminal proceedings and a coronial inquiry are also under way and it is critical that these are not impeded or prejudiced.”
The CDCR Panel is expected to finalise its report early next year.