Queensland’s child safety department and other agencies have been criticsied for failing to protect an eight-year-old girl killed by her mother in 2011.
Queensland’s child safety department didn’t do enough to protect an eight-year-old Cairns girl who was killed by her mother, a court has heard.
A coronial inquest is examining what involvement government and private agencies had with the girl before she died after being repeatedly bashed by her mother in 2011.
The mother is serving a seven-year jail sentence after pleading guilty to manslaughter last year.
The girl’s stepfather was sentenced to three years’ jail on the same charge for ignoring the abuse.
During closing submissions on Friday, counsel assisting the Coroner Stephanie Williams said the state should have done more.
“The involvement of the Department of Child Safety in [the girl’s] life before her death was inadequate and resulted in her being returned to and remaining in a harmful environment that led to her death,” she said.
Ms Williams said the girl should never have been returned to her mother just nine days after she was put into foster care over abuse claims in November 2010.
But she conceded departmental staff in Cairns were overworked and under-resourced.
The issues, first raised in 2009, were not addressed until after the girl’s death.
Ms Williams said the Act for Kids agency shared the blame, given it didn’t properly engage with the mother after the 2010 abuse claims.
The department’s barrister, Karen Carmody, told the inquest there wasn’t a direct link between the death and how the department dealt with the case.
But reviews and significant changes had since been implemented, she said.
“It’s easy to attack the department but in reality it was the mother and stepfather,” Ms Carmody told the court.
The girl didn’t attend school for a year leading up to her death and the last time any agency spoke to the family was in January 2011.
Ms Williams recommended data-sharing between Centrelink, police and the child safety and education departments.
Northern Coroner Jane Bentley will hand down her findings next Friday.