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"Child Safety Service Centre"

About: DCCSDS Brisbane Region

(as a parent/guardian),

My (ex)-husband, my mother and I have all experienced problems with our family's Child Safety Officer.

When I first made contact with our Child Safety Officer a number of years ago, I did so to report my child having been physically and emotionally abused by another family member, as they were both living together with my mother at the time.

I pleaded with our Child Safety Officer to do something as my child was clearly being traumatised by this abuse. They told me they would help us, but they never did.

Incident reports were emailed to the Child Safety Officer from both myself and my mother, (who was caring for two of my children and the other person at the time), detailing the level of violence that my child was being subjected to over a long period of time. But the Child Safety Officer never intervened or offered any support, advice or solution.

Even my mother reported to me that she herself had been emailing the officer, notifying them of the problems she had been experiencing at home between my child and our relative, even asking the Child Safety Officer for mediation to be provided for them to work through their issues, but she told me that the Child Safety Officer never responded to her requests for assistance.

Things got so bad for my child, whilst living with my mum that my child would always hide in their bedroom, too scared to come out, afraid of what our relative would do - literally living in fear.

After yet another incident where our relative knocked my child over with no provocation at all, I ended up confronting the person myself, telling them to keep their hands off my child - which did work for a month or so.

Unfortunately though, another incident occurred, where the other person threatened me with a knife, severely traumatising both of my children, which led to the police being called, the other person being arrested and removed from the home, where they were told not to return.

This was the biggest concern that my family and I shared, as we felt that it was the Child Safety Officer's responsibility, to care for our children and keep them safe from harm.

We, to this day, remain shocked, angry and disappointed with the Child Safety Officer for not adequately protecting our children from this type of harm, even though they were notified in writing of every incident that had occurred.

In a strange turn of events, my mother had informed me that the Child Safety Officer (CSO) was also the CSO for our relative a few years earlier. I learnt from my mother that as far as she was aware the Child Safety Officer never even met our relative in the time they were the CSO, until the day that person turned 18, when CSO came over to the house to say goodbye!

Another complaint we have with the Child Safety Officer is the drama they caused when they turned up at my child's school to speak with them. The problem was not that the CSO did this, but how they did it.

The CSO should have informed us that they had planned to do this so that we were aware of it, but they did not. It was done secretly, and only the CSO and my child's social worker knew of the plan to do this.

I later found out that when my husband picked our child up from school that day, our child was angry and out of control, from being upset by what the CSO had told them.

My child had reported to their father that the CSO had told my child that they was being placed with another carer, but that the CSO would not tell my child who it was or when it was going to happen, leaving my child feeling anxious, which led to extreme behavioural outbursts, which lasted for several weeks after.

The CSO should have informed us that they wanted to speak to our child, so that we could have been prepared for the possible ramifications. But because the CSO never let us know, we were not prepared for our child's behaviour, and could not adequately help them as we did not know fully what had happened and what the CSO had told them.

I believe that the Child Safety Officer's actions were thoughtless, careless and very damaging to our child's emotional wellbeing, as the CSO was aware of our child's anxiety at the time, but the CSO decided to do this anyway.

This complaint was reported to both the Child Safety Officer and their Team Leader, ending in a verbal apology being given. But we felt that was not at all adequate considering the damage caused, having been, what we believe to be reckless in their conduct.

Another complaint we had with the CSO is not reimbursing my mother for costs associated with damage done to her home, caused by my child, when angry and have an outburst.

My mother contacted the CSO many times by both email and by phone, asking about how to seek reimbursement for the extensive damage caused to her home during the time she was caring for my child.

The CSO sent my mother forms that they told her to fill out and email back, which my mother did. The CSO told my mother that they would take care of it all and for her not to worry, but the CSO never followed through with my mother's request for reimbursement, leaving her thousands of dollars out of pocket. My mother did everything right, following the Child Safety Officer's instructions, but she never heard back about it.

My mother also spent several hundreds of dollars of her own money, on school books and uniforms for my child, when the CSO had previously told her that they (the department), would cover the costs, but again, my mother was never reimbursed for this.

Another complaint we have is when the CSO threatened my husband with police action, after the CSO had been informed by our child's social worker, that we had been recording all communication that we have had with the CSO.

The Child Safety Officer told my husband that they were very upset with us for recording "private" meetings and phone calls and had told him that they were going to go to the police to see what could be done about it.

My husband and I were both informed by our solicitors that we were legally allowed to record meetings and phone calls, without having to notify Child Safety of this, as long as we were a party to the conversation, which of course we were.

To this day, the department are disputing these facts with us, simply because they do not want to be recorded, but we continue to record all communication that we have with them, as it is our legal right to do so.

Another complaint we have is the CSO withholding a vital report (mental health assessment and treatment plan), from us in relation to our child. We sought a copy of this report from them many times over about a six week period.

The Child Safety Officer kept giving my husband and I different excuses for why they had not been able to do it, and it was not until I had made a complaint to the Central Complaints & Review Unit, that we were finally released a copy of it.

Some of the CSO's excuses where that they were away sick and telling us they had only just gotten back to work and had not caught up with everything yet, and that they would get back to us about it but never did.

Another time I called the Child Safety Officer to ask about it, they told me they understood my frustration and they apologised to me, telling me that they were going to speak to their "senior practitioner" about it, but I never heard back from them about that either.

The CSO then told us that they were waiting on the Team Leader, to approve a copy of the report being released to us. Then the CSO told us it was actually a different service that could only release the report to us, not Child Safety.

After about two long months of my husband and I desperately trying to seek a copy of this report, many emails and phone calls going back and forth, endless excuses, and finally a complaint being made to The Central Complaints & Review Unit, were we finally given a copy of this report!

Another complaint we had was the CSO not informing us that our family's previous Team Leader had left, and that a new Team Leader had been assigned to us.

This all came about when my mother was called into the Child Safety Service Centre Office for a "private" meeting, regarding a new placement that Child Safety were seeking for my child, but they had not informed myself or my husband.

My mother later told me that during that meeting, she had met our new Team Leader, and the Child Safety Officer had told my mother not to tell my husband and I about the new Team Leader.

To this day, my husband and I still do not understand why there was such secrecy surrounding a change in our family's team leader. It was very suspicious, and we do not believe that they had any right to keep such information secret from us. We should have been informed of this change, and their arrangements of a new placement for our child, as soon as it had happened, but we were not.

Due to the extensive amount of complaints my family and I have had with our CSO, I have contacted them directly by email several times, notifying them of our complaints and concerns, and I have also requested a meeting with them, our Team Leader and the Manager, to address our complaints, but unfortunately to this day, no such meeting has ever been scheduled and our complaints have remained unresolved.

The latest news we did hear however, was from the Child Safety Officer, notifying us by email, that they were leaving that office to start work elsewhere and that we were being assigned a new CSO.

This all just makes me wonder why a CSO is so quickly moved on as soon as there is word of a formal complaint in the making? ....

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Response from Darren Hegarty, Regional Director Child Safety, Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services 8 years ago
Darren Hegarty
Regional Director Child Safety,
Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services
Submitted on 5/02/2016 at 1:34 PM
Published on Care Opinion at 1:34 PM

Dear missy13m

Thank you for providing this information. Whilst the department is unable to comment on this matter due to confidentiality issues, I can advise that each of the issues raised were appropriately assessed and responded to with the family involved.
I would like to invite the family to contact Ms Melanie Safonoff, Manager, Alderley Child Safety Service Centre, should they wish to discuss these issues further. Ms Safonoff can be contacted on 3247 7888.

Kind regards,


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