CRISIS: Grandma forced to take five children into care
A TOOWOOMBA grandmother who took five children into her care says child safety services in the region are in crisis.
She witnessed video footage which showed a child in danger and took immediate action, contacting child safety services.
The Chronicle understands the footage is extremely disturbing in nature. It is unable to be shown publicly.
The issue was classified as needing to be actioned within a five day time-frame but no action was taken for nearly 40 days.
The woman said child safety officers ignored evidence which showed the children were in danger.
The grandmother became upset after no action was taken and the Toowoomba Child Safety Office was slow to return phone calls.
"I told them, what about that little boy (Mason Lee), this is why he's dead because of idiots (like you)," she said.
According to the Queensland Child Death Case Review Panel, 51 children known to the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services died last year from assaults, suicides, accidents or other causes such as chronic medical conditions.
The grandmother now has care of the five children which she described as a "very difficult situation".
"The kids' lives have been in turmoil not only because of being removed but by the lack of action taken by child safety," she said.
"I was told the following by a child safety officer: 'As you know, nothing moves quickly in this sector and I am working as fast as I can while attending to urgent matters with other cases'," the grandmother said.
The children's mother has had earlier run-ins with child safety services due to drug and alcohol concerns.
The grandmother said the woman "couldn't cope properly" with motherhood responsibilities.
She is now taking further action and has promised to raise the issue with management in Toowoomba and take the matter to Child Safety Minister Shannon Fentiman as well.
"The treatment is appalling," she said.
The woman told her story after a report in The Chronicle publicised issues with child safety services.
Leaked data from the Liberal National Party showed almost 35% of critical 24 hour cases were not actioned in time in the Western Downs Investigation & Assessment region.
"They're allowing kids to stay in very dangerous families," Opposition representative for child safety Ros Bates said at the time. Ms Fentiman responded by defending the department and said January figures showed the biggest improvement in child safety investigation and assessment commencement time-frames since June, 2014.
In response to the latest claims she said foster and kinship carers were some of the hardest-working Queenslanders.
"We have a record budget of more than $1 billion for child safety in Queensland this financial year alone, including for Toowoomba.
"We have hired 129 new child safety workers across Queensland, including 33 in the south-west region and 16.5 full-time child safety workers based right here in Toowoomba.
"These additional staff will help bring down case-loads and drive improvements to investigation and assessment time-frames."