By ERWIN CHLANDA
“We have failed a young child” says Minister for Territory Families Dale Wakefield after an internal departmental report into the alleged rape of a two-year-old girl in Tennant Creek.
Ms Wakefield says in a media release that “Territory Families, and the former Department of Children and Families, did not have systems and processes to adequately assess safety and consider issues affecting the [child’s] family as a whole.
“There is a need to improve staff skills and overall professional supervision within Territory Families.
“The findings also highlight inadequate collaboration and referral systems between Territory Families and other government and non-government agencies. There was a failure of shared accountability to ensure the safety of the child.
“It is clear we need a new client information system that enables effective information sharing within and between agencies.”
Ms Wakefield (pictured) says a full copy of the report and its recommendations has been provided to the Children’s Commissioner “to inform her independent investigation into the incident and the care and services provided by Territory Families and other government agencies”.
She says the government will take immediate actions including the following:-
• Address whole-of-government and community responses to child sexual exploitation.
• Commence planning for a new client information system with full capability to merge histories for clients and family members and avoid fragmentation of knowledge and interventions.
• Develop mandatory reporting guidelines for professional notifiers and greater education about these reports.
• Allocate a permanent Practice Leader to the Central Intake Team and proceed with the current restructuring of this team to improve professional supervision of statutory notification.
In Tennant Creek there are now four extra child protection practitioners, a senior Aboriginal Community Worker, a youth outreach and re-engagement team leader, a senior director, a domestic violence hub and close working with senior elders and respected persons to improve child safety.
By ERWIN CHLANDA