Are there any more Shannon McCooles?

The State Liberals are demanding Jay Weatherill release the review conducted by former Police Commissioner Mal Hyde into Families SA staff after Shannon McCoole was caught sexually abusing children in state care.

“Mal Hyde was hired because of fears there may be more predators lurking in Families SA but his review delivered to the Minister on 2 October 2014 has never been made public,” said Shadow Attorney-General Vickie Chapman.

“In light of Commissioner Nyland’s findings that Families SA is in a state of crisis we need to know what Mal Hyde discovered and what actions were taken as a consequence of the review.

“How many Families SA employees were dismissed as a result of the Hyde review and are any with a question mark about them still employed by the child protection agency?”

The Nyland Royal Commission confirmed that the recruitment and management of Families SA staff has improved since the McCoole case and the Mal Hyde review.

In 2016 recruitment was placed within a dedicated team and psychometric tests are now interpreted by qualified personnel.

The Commissioner’s findings provide a level of comfort about employees commencing work in this area after the Hyde review, but what about the pre-existing workforce?

According to Commissioner Nyland 467 employees were identified, although “paper records were scattered throughout the department”, with 102 workers identified as being of high or very high concern.

Minister Rankine told the Parliament “that 25 staff have been directed away from their workplace” and “2 staff members… have not been contactable”.

Commissioner Nyland reported that the Deputy Chief Executive, Office of Child Protection, Etienne Scheepers, had only received a copy of the Hyde Review in October 2015 and claimed “I skimmed it”. (pp 81 and 332-334 RC Report)

Now the Government has announced that three employees have been suspended pending further review.

“How can anyone be confident that the Premier and Minister have acted to ensure there are no workers in residential care that are putting our children at risk?” asked Ms Chapman.