There are on-going fears after a five-year-old boy in a child protection facility allegedly tried to smother a one-year-old – and continues to attack the baby whenever he is around him.
The boy, who is at a home in Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory, has been described as “unemotional” and in need of constant supervision.
“This [five-year-old boy], he needs some quite serious intervention … he’s got no normal emotional response” a source told the ABC.
Staff, too frightened to talk publicly, said the boy assaulted the baby on a daily basis.
The children are being housed in a child protection facility. There are three children living there – the five-year-old boy, his baby brother, and the one-year-old baby who is allegedly being attacked.
The ABC reports that there was no “house parent”, but the three children are looked after by a roster of two staff at any one time, according to an agreement with the Northern Territory’s Children and Families.
The source said it was impossible to keep the boy away from the baby as long as they were in the same house and it was impossible to stop him assaulting the baby as long as they were together.
It was also alleged the five-year-old boy had tried to cut another child with broken glass at school.
According to the report staff have flagged concerns over the little action taken.
The Northern Territory’s Children and Families (DCF) Minister, John Elferink, refused to comment on the specifics of the case to the ABC.
His spokeswoman said Mr Elferink requested a department briefing after he was contacted by a concerned staff member on Christmas Day – though the matter had originally been reported to DCF on December 14.
“(The Minister John Elferink) is satisfied DCF acted appropriately through investigating the claims when the matter was reported to them and is taking the proper steps to ensure the safety of this child,” his spokeswoman said.
According to the ABC Tennant Creek sits within DCF’s Barkly regional child protection office – an area with staffing problems.
While staffing levels are higher now, in March 2012, DCF statistics showed the Barkly office had 112 cases and just one full-time equivalent child protection worker.
Current department figures show an improvement. A DCF spokeswoman told the ABC the Barkly office now had six funded and filled child protection positions, with a caseload ratio of 26.
“Any incident concerning children in our care is required to be reported to our central intake team immediately,” she said.