'Ice corridors' mean one-third of Queensland children in protection have parent using meth

One-third of children who came into the care of the Queensland’s Department of Child Safety in 2016 had parents who use or have used methamphetamines, most commonly ice, a new report has found.

About 60 per cent of those 749 children suffered neglect, about a third were subjected to emotional harm, 11 per cent experienced physical harm and 1 per cent were sexually abused.

The report found “ice corridors” were emerging with use most prevalent in the Gold Coast, Beenleigh, the north of Ipswich and Brisbane, spanning up to Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast.

The worrying numbers were revealed by the state’s first year-long study, ending in December, into the drug habits of families known to the Department of Child Safety.

Child Safety Minister Shannon Fentiman released the research, along with the latest quarterly child protection data at the state’s first ice summit, being held in Rockhampton today.

“The new child safety figures are deeply disturbing and demonstrate the damaging impact of ice on communities right across the state,” she said.

The study also found parents known to the child protection system used ice more regularly than alcohol.

Of those who used the drug, more than two-thirds had a criminal history and about the same number had been diagnosed with a mental illness.

About 68 per cent had experienced family and domestic violence in the past year.

Most of the children affected were aged from newborn to five-year-olds.


Ms Fentiman said continued investment in community services would help reduce the impact of ice on children and families.

“But the prevalence of ice use also tells us that we need to continue to invest in early intervention and prevention services,” she said.

“To provide mums and dads with hands-on, in-home help so they can be better parents.”

Cases finalised within benchmark down

The department has been under intense scrutiny since the deaths of Caboolture toddler Mason Lee and Logan girl Tiahleigh Palmer.

The December quarterly child protection results, showed some improvements, while others areas had failed to increase.

The data showed there was some improvement in the number of child safety investigations started in the required timeframes.

The total number of investigations starting on time increased by 149 cases in the year to December.

The number of investigations that started within the 24-hour benchmark for high-risk situations rose from 89 per cent to 90 per cent.

Of those, three quarters were resolved in the required 60 days. Overall only 45 per cent of all cases were resolved in that time, down on the previous quarter.

The response time for lower-risk situations, for five- and 10-day response times, remained the same.

The Minister said they were getting to the most urgent cases, and expected the overall response times to get better.


“The data shows improvements in commencing and completing investigations, and this is happening at a time when notifications are also increasing, with around 1,624 more than the same time last year,” Ms Fentiman said.

“We’re doing more than ever before, we have more intakes more investigations and we’ve actually improved our response timeframes.”

An extra 129 child safety workers have begun or will start work, as well as specialist investigation teams, a recommendation made after Mason’s death.

Child safety officers now look after an average of 18 cases, down from 19, with an aim to cut that to 17.

Slow start time for 4,000 suspected cases of child abuse

Opposition child safety spokeswoman Ros Bates said improvement in starting investigations in the required timeframes was still needed, and the Government was failing vulnerable children.

She said about 62 per cent of investigations had not started in the required time.

“That’s over 4,000 cases of suspected child abuse across the state are stuck in these processing backlogs,” Ms Bates said.

“That’s thousands of abuse reports that aren’t being actioned.

“Every one of these numbers is a little kid waiting for someone from child safety to come and rescue them right now and that’s not happening under this government.”

This post originally appeared on ABC News.

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