Thursday, May 30, 2024

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HomeIssue 2We failed a young child: Dale Wakefield

We failed a young child: Dale Wakefield

p2347 Dale Wakefield OKBy 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.


  1. Unfortunately professionalism is rare in the government and their agencies, particularly in Tennant Creek.
    To me, professionalism starts with personal presentation.
    You only need to have a look at the way a lot of the workers dress and present themselves.
    You would not know if the are government employees or just passers by so it’s hard to take them seriously or professionally.
    Once upon a time, government employees dressed in uniforms, not just wrinkled shirts with logos and joggers. Uniform, is more than dress, so a uniformed approach to issues will also demonstrate professionalism.
    On a more important note, Ms Wakefield says some positive things, including the “hows”, but in true political style, she fails to commit to the “when”.
    Perhaps the development of a 10 point plan (in consultation with the community) may be beneficial.
    It would be good to know what happens if they fail to deliver, but hopefully that may be reflected in the next election outcome.

  2. A culture of zero tolerance is required in addition to the excellent measures outlined by the honourable Minister.
    I would go to the extent of mandatory life imprisonment if Australia does not permit death sentence.


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