Reform of South Australia’s dysfunctional child protection system needs to be begin today with the appointment of a dedicated Minister for Child Protection, the resignation of Chief Executive of the Department Tony Harrison and an apology from Premier Jay Weatherill.
“In light of the Coroner’s finding in respect of the death of Chloe Valentine nothing short of the complete and total overhaul of Families SA will be acceptable and that must begin at the very top of the organisation,” said State Liberal Leader Steven Marshall.
“A dedicated Minister for Child Protection is an essential first step in the complete overhaul of this profoundly dysfunctional government agency.
“Having two Ministers sharing responsibility for child protection is ridiculous and undermines the authority necessary to deliver critical reforms.
“Tony Harrison, Chief Executive of the Department, must resign as a result of his failure to ensure the Department complied with the law.
“Mr Harrison has turned a blind eye to the requirement that if there is reasonable suspicion that a child is at risk as a result of illegal drug abuse then the Chief Executive must apply to the Youth Court for the person to undergo a drug assessment.
“Having failed to require the Department to comply with section 20(2) of the Children’s Protection Act, despite the fact Chloe died at the hands of drug addled parents, Mr Harrison has no alternative but to offer his resignation.
“Premier Weatherill was responsible for child protection when the Act was amended to require the assessment but not a single report of an assessment appears to have been made in Families SA annual reports.
“Premier Weatherill needs to accept full responsibility for the systemic failure of child protection services under successive Labor Governments and have the decency to offer an unreserved apology for what has been a profound ministerial failure.
“13 years of Labor Government has left our most vulnerable children dependent on a broken child protection system that is unable to protect children at risk.”