(QldGovSpin) Children's advocates acknowledged at annual child protection week awards

Submitted by Editor on Mon, 06/09/2004 - 23:13

Child protection professionals and advocates throughout Queensland have been honoured for their efforts in protecting the State's children from abuse and neglect.

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Child Safety, Mike Reynolds
childsafety@cabinet.qld.gov.au
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05/09/04

Representatives of key child protection agencies gathered at Customs House, Brisbane today for the Annual Child Protection Awards and the launch of Child Protection Week 2004.

Minister for Child Safety Mike Reynolds said the awards recognised Queenslanders who were making extraordinary contributions to the lives of disadvantaged children.

"I offer my heartfelt thanks to those in our community who devote so much of their lives to what is often a traumatic and challenging field of community service," Mr Reynolds said.

Mr Reynolds said the theme for this year's event - 'Child Protection is Everybody's Business' - recognised that no one is exempt from the responsibility of ensuring children grow up in a loving environment, safe from physical and emotional abuse.

"Protection from harm is the most important role anyone can play in a child's life and that is what this year's theme is all about," Mr Reynolds said.

This year awards were presented to:

* Professional category - Rhonda Cole, Senior Child Protection Worker at Townsville Aboriginal and Islander Health Services;

* Volunteer category - Dr Richard Roylance of Protect All Children Today;

* Public Sector category - Peter Crawford, Detective Acting Inspector at the Sexual Crimes Investigation Unit, Queensland Police Service;

* Regional Program category - Sunshine Cooloola Services Against Sexual Violence Inc;

* Youth Participation category - Education Queensland Behaviour Support Services based in the Cairns Cape and Gulf Education District;

* Education Initiative category - Carole Park State School;

* Research Initiative category - Foster Carer Audit Team, who worked on the "Final Report on Phrase One of the Audit of Foster Carers Subject to Child Protection Notifications."

Mr Reynolds said that for the first time in the Award's history, a school had been recognised for its work in child protection.

The awards are sponsored by the Queensland Child Protection Week Committee (QCPWC).

QCPWC chairperson, Lisa Hillan, said the Awards provided an opportunity to showcase the invaluable work being carried out throughout Queensland and to say a public thank you to those who are working relentlessly to ensure a safe environment for children in the community.

"The awards provide an opportunity to showcase the invaluable work being carried out throughout the state and to say a public thank-you to those who had worked so hard to ensure a safe environment for our children," Ms Hillan said.

"Child protection is indeed everyone's business as these Awards show and hopefully, by their example they will also encourage others to follow in their footsteps and work towards ensuring the well-being of our children."

National Child Protection Week 2004
Award Recipients

Category - Professional

Rhonda Cole

Senior Child Protection Worker, Townsville Aboriginal and Islander Health Services

Ms Cole has spent the past 24 years working in the field of child protection with Aboriginal and Islander families in the Townsville region, which in the early days included Ingham, Charters Towers, Ayr, Bowen and Home Hill. Rhonda instigated a strategy of working with families and their communities that provided detailed information to families about child protection and child protection practices, rather than being simply reactive.

She has developed child protection materials for distribution to schools, families and communities. She has also been able to articulate to non-Indigenous workers the nature of child protection from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspective and has assisted them in integrating these perspectives into their own understandings of family issues with clients.

Category - Volunteer

Dr Richard Roylance

Protect All Children Today (PACT)

Dr Roylance is a paediatrician who has worked in the field of child abuse and advocated for child protection from early in his medical career. He has led a number of strategic improvements in his ten years with PACT and has contributed to other community-based organisations including Save the Children Fund.

Dr Roylance has overseen the development and expansion of the Child Witness Support Worker program into regional areas of Queensland, collaborative research into child witnesses and the criminal justice system and the development and implementation of best practice policy and procedures for organisations delivering child protection services.

His state and national contributions are further supported through an international profile, including his work as Treasurer and Executive Councillor on the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.

Category - Public Sector

Peter Crawford

Detective Acting Inspector, Sexual Crimes Investigation Unit, Queensland Police Service

Detective Acting Inspector Peter Crawford was instrumental in the establishment of the Co-ordination and Support Unit within the State Crime Operations Command.

The first major task for the unit was the development of the Queensland Police Service's Child Protection Implementation Plan, which reflects the government's proposal to establish a whole-of-government commitment to child protection in Queensland.

The unit will promote child protection on behalf of the Queensland Police Service and co-ordinate the Queensland Police Service's response and reporting of its child protection functions. He has also been involved in inter-agency problem solving to develop a Best Practice SCAN manual with the Department of Child Safety and other core agencies.

Detective Acting Inspector Crawford was also responsible for the Queensland Police Service contribution to Project Axis, a joint initiative with the Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commission to develop more effective investigative and preventative strategies for dealing with child abuse. As part of this contribution, he identified a lack of funding for joint (former) Department of Families/Queensland Police Service Interviewing of Children and Recording of Evidence (ICARE) training. He was also jointly responsible, in conjunction with the Department of Premier and Cabinet, for developing a Cabinet Budget Review Committee submission to achieve increased funding and has assumed responsibility for the delivery of ICARE training since 2003.

Category - Regional Program

Sunshine Cooloola Services Against Sexual Violence Incorporated

The Sunshine Cooloola Services Against Sexual Violence Incorporated (SCSASV) is trialling one of the first children's sexual assault counselling services in Queensland. The trial program, funded by the Department of Communities, covers the shires of Noosa, Cooloola, Maroochydore and Gympie.

Services include counselling for children aged up to 18 years who have experienced sexual abuse and their non-offending carers, or children engaging in sexual or early offending behaviour; counselling and advocacy for Indigenous families affected by sexual violence; psychological assessments for the Department of Child Safety for children who may be at risk of sexual harm but who have not disclosed abuse; community and professional education and training; and the development of collaborative partnerships for professional agencies working in the area of child protection.

The trial commenced in December 2003 and has recently been recommended that it proceed to a three-year pilot phase.

Category - Youth Participation

Behaviour Support Services, Education Queensland, Cairns Cape and Gulf Education District

The Behaviour Support Services team comprises social workers, teachers, a psychologist and a youth worker. Together, they have worked with schools in the Cairns district and Cape and Gulf regions providing counselling, therapy and resource services; acting as a referral and resource for schools to community agencies; and helping to build better relationships between schools, families and the wider community.

The team also provides individual-based learning programs, outdoor education programs and social skill and team building activities to at-risk students. They have helped students experiencing grief or loss, those with relationship problems, self-image and eating disorders, truancy, depression, drug addiction, stress, sexual, physical and emotional abuse, stealing, pregnancy and aggression.

Category - Education Initiative

Carole Park State School

At Carole Park State School children are confident of a safe and caring environment, where staff will help and support their needs and where they are confident in reporting abuse because they know their school will help.

The school has established an Intervention Committee, which enables all staff to refer concerns and observations about children for action. The principal at Carole Park, Marilyn Barclay, has been a leader in the process to form a Community Reference Group providing a voice for the community to the State Government and Brisbane City Council and the principal and staff have organised the successful staging of three community festivals in the past 18 months.

The school acknowledges that some children come to school hungry, cold and hurting and have instigated a breakfast and lunch club, a clothing pool (including shoes and hats), a time out/chill-out space, phone calls to home, sponsorships to include children in school and community activities and building relationships with parents.

Category - Research Initiative

The Foster Carer Audit Team

"Final Report on Phrase One of the Audit of Foster Carers Subject to Child Protection Notifications."

The Foster Carer Audit was initially expected to take four to six weeks. However, when data reports became available it was apparent the task was of a greater magnitude and more complex than first anticipated. More staff were recruited and the audit process took six months to complete, with a total of 1600 child protection notifications and corresponding case material audited by the team.

The audit found a number of serious issues about under-resourcing, outdated information systems and unsafe practices within the former Department of Families that had seriously impacted on the care and safety of many children in foster care. The audit, the most comprehensive of its kind ever undertaken in Australia, was undertaken in an environment of intense media, community and departmental scrutiny.

The team was always respectful of fosters carers and departmental staff while undertaking the audit and acknowledged the complexity and contextual issues of working in child protection, such as the lack of resources and support and the hostile environment that faces child protection workers. The tenacity of the team resulted in Operation Ghost, the second investigation undertaken by the Crime and Misconduct Commission.

For media information phone Karla Steen on 0407 582 041

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