Government Neglects Children’s Health
Wednesday, 11 July 2007
Shadow Minister for Child Safety and former paediatric nurse, Jann Stuckey MP has today criticised the Government for failing the wellbeing of children in its care by not supplying Child Health Passports. These passports track inherent health problems of children at risk and have to date revealed some serious medical problems.
Ms Stuckey stated "In response to Questions on Notice during the Budget Estimates process the Minister for Child Safety failed to answer whether every child in care for more than 30 days has actually received an initial full medical assessment’. (1)
"The Integrated Client Management System (ICMS) is supposed to integrate all relevant information relating to a child in care and yet the Minister freely admits this computer system does not currently have the capability to provide data in regard to children requiring a Health Passport. (1)
"Having suffered a nine month delay for this computer system to go live you would hope the Government would have made sure it was working effectively.
"The Minister has stated ‘no areas of the Departments service delivery have been compromised as a result of the ICMS’ yet there is a clear contradiction when it comes to delivering Health Passports for children dependant on the Department for ongoing treatment of sometimes chronic conditions. (2)
"Children’s healthy development is being compromised by delays. This coming from a department whose core business is child safety is inexcusable.
In Parliament today Ms Stuckey called for the Minister to answer this question and sought confirmation as to when all children in care will have a Child Health Passport and if children in care are actually receiving an Initial full medical assessment. During Estimates Hearings the Minister has now advised the Child Health passports will not be available for all children in care until 2010.
"It has been highlighted in recent Government reports that anecdotal evidence has been found of sexually transmitted diseases in children aged between 13 months and six years. (3) This in itself should have spurred the Government into action to fast track the conduct of medical assessments and issue of Health Passports.
"The Minister claimed on 29 November 2006 that ‘the Child Health Passport will help to better manage and treat the multiple health problems of children who come into care.
"Of major concern is the fact this system was trialled on 70 children from January to July 2006, announced in November 2006 (4), and introduced in January 2007 and yet it is still not fully functional. To say it will be introduced progressively is not good enough, and there needs to be clear and very specific timeframes.
"We now have the Minister buckpassing this issue onto Child Safety Officers, requiring them to complete this information as ‘they review case plans’. Just how much longer is this Government going to drag its heels on such a critical issue for vulnerable children.
"Disconcertingly the Minister has stated ‘retrospective development of passports will be given to children in need’, which suggests it is not currently happening and she needs to explain why.
"The Minister has announced additional funding into data entry and recording teams but not enough priority is being placed on the health of children. We encountered multiple postponements with the ICMS, are we going to have the same with Child Health Passports?
"Words mean nothing, action means everything – this Government must clearly demonstrate it is serious about addressing the health needs of children in care." concluded Ms Stuckey.
Estimates B Non Govt Question On Notice No. 3
Estimates B Non Govt Question On Notice . 6
3 "A Black History" Tanya Chilcott-Moore, Courier Mail 30/06/07 p50
4 Ministerial Media Statement 29/11/06
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