Mason Jet Lee: Child protection staff stood down over 'errors of judgement' after report into toddler's death
- Category: Child Protection Queensland media and newspaper articles
- Created: Wednesday, 23 November 2016 22:08
- Written by Nick Wiggins - ABC.net.au
Twelve protection staff facing disciplinary action for "errors of judgement" leading up to the death of Caboolture toddler Mason Jet Lee should not be made scapegoats for what is a flawed system, a union has said.
Three child safety service centre staff have also been stood down after the 21-month-old's death from peritonitis in June.
Mason suffered traumatic injuries in the day before his death.
In July, Queensland's Health Minister ordered an investigation into why the toddler had been allowed to go home after being treated in hospital.
Queensland Child Safety Minister Shannon Fentiman said the three people stood down were a child safety officer, a team leader, and the manager of the service centre.
The Together Union said it was not convinced the officers would get a decent hearing.
Union spokesman Alex Scott said the staff should not be investigated by the same department that failed to provide them with enough resources leading up to Mason's death.
"The Minister, the director-general and the department all need to own responsibility for the failures in the system," he said.
"Mistakes will be made, and officers will and should be held accountable for it.
"But the people making the judgement about the nature of those mistakes should be coming at it with clean hands.
"We don't believe the director-general and the ethical standards unit of the department, which has understaffed and overworked these officer, should be the one making that call."
High-risk cases being reviewed. Other "high risk" child safety cases worked on by the officers who were stood down are now being reviewed.
Ms Fentiman said she was handed a report of her department's interactions with Mason's family yesterday.
"The report details serious errors of judgement made by a child safety officer, a team leader and the manager of the child safety service centre," she said.
"Those staff have been stood down immediately while the ethical standards unit investigates whether or not there has been a breach of the public service code of conduct.
"To be honest I have never seen anything like this."
The report has been provided to the Family and Child Commissioner and the police as part of their ongoing criminal investigation.
Three people have been stood down over Mason's death.
"We've made the decision that any staff member that has had any involvement in this particular case will be referred to the ethical standards unit," Ms Fentiman said.
Family and Child Commissioner Cheryl Vardon said she was appalled, shocked and distressed by Mason's death.
"My first reaction was, how could this have happened," she said.
Ms Fentiman said the report found no systemic failures in the department, but did find "serious local flaws at the Caboolture Child Safety Service Centre".
The findings have prompted the Minister to split the North Coast child safety region into two.
But work to split the region and put in place two regional directors will not start until January.
The Minister has not released the report, which she says is just the first stage of the investigation into what happened to the toddler.
It has been provided to the police, the coroner, the Child and Family Commission and the Child Death Review Panel.
Ms Fentiman said she would take the unprecedented step of releasing the full Child Death Review Panel report when it was finalised.
Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls said Ms Fentiman did not act fast enough to discipline staff over Mason's death.
He said a right to information request from the Liberal National Party and the media forced her hand.
"The only reason she's acting is because she knows she's under the pump for her failure to act," he said.
"These reports are now becoming available, what's worse, we understand the Minister was aware of the contents of this report for two weeks."
Source : http://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-23/mason-lee-death-staff-stood-down-errors-judgement-child-safety/8049742?pfmredir=sm