A Queensland minister is under pressure to resign after the state’s Child Safety Department sent confidential details about a mother and her sons to their alleged abuser.
An unidentified person in the department accidentally sent the information about the children’s new school, counsellor and local sports club.
Their alleged abuser is in jail on remand accused of attacking the woman, leaving her with broken bones, and going on the run with two of their three sons.
Child Safety Minister Shannon Fentiman told state parliament the “devastating error” had been referred to the Ethical Standards unit for investigation.
The mother and sons had also been offered further counselling and relocation expenses after the woman had to pull the boys out of their new school.
“It is totally unacceptable and I expect much, much better,” Ms Fentiman said on Tuesday.
“I am very sorry and I have personally spoken to and apologised to the family. My Director-General has also apologised on behalf of the department.”
But opposition child safety spokesperson Ros Bates said saying sorry wasn’t good enough.
“As we reflect on Child Protection Week, we need to ensure the premier holds her minister accountable for the litany of failures,” he told parliament.
“Premier, sack this minister today.”
The case has surfaced amid separate reports about a Gold Coast woman who learned via Facebook – not Corrective Services – that her violent ex-partner had been released early from jail.
Opposition leader Tim Nicholls used Question Time to attack the premier over the Facebook case.
“Premier, why did the minister leave this victim of domestic violence to find out on Facebook that her abuser had been given parole, leaving her with no information and no protection?”
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk called for bi-partisan support on the broader issue of family violence.
“I honestly believe domestic and family violence shouldn’t be a political issue, it should be something that we all work together to address,” she told parliament.
“Unfortunately there are times when people fall below those cracks, and we need to do everything we can to help rebuild their lives.”
Safeguards for victims of domestic violence have been in the spotlight after a spate of horrific killings and attacks.
In one of the worst cases, Gold Coast mother-of-four Teresa May was murdered in January by her estranged husband just weeks after he was granted bail for a previous attack on her. He later took his own life.
National domestic violence helpline: 1800 737 732 or 1800RESPECT. In an emergency call triple-zero.