Two separate cases of alleged child neglect that have emerged in Brisbane this week will be independently investigated by the Queensland Child and Family Commission, the Queensland Government has announced.
The commission will examine circumstances leading to the death of four-year-old Willow Dunn at a house in Cannon Hill, along with the alleged neglect of two teenagers found locked in a house at Stafford.
Willow had Down syndrome, while the teenage boys are both autistic.
“I have been in contact with the Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath today to ask that this independent investigation start as quickly as possible,” Child Safety Minister Di Farmer said.
Queensland Child and Family Commissioner Cheryl Vardon said the death of Willow and the condition of the boys was particular distressing, due to their disabilities.
“We are shocked and I’m personally quite distressed about the children found in terrible circumstances in Stafford … and little Willow who has sadly passed away,” she said.
Ms Vardon said the investigation had already begun, with information requested from relevant agencies.
“The community wants answers, the Government wants answers and we don’t want this to happen again.”
She said the review could be ready in six weeks, depending on what was uncovered.
“I would be making a recommendation to the Attorney[-General] about systems changes and the Government would then decide whether or not the report or parts of the report would be made public,” Ms Vardon said.
The Minister said due to the Child Protection Act she could not legally comment on whether either family was known to the Department of Child Safety.
“I think the big question, the important question is, how did they [the incidents] happen? How do we stop this from happening again?” Ms Farmer said.
“The Commissioner’s investigation is going to be to see where and if the system failed these young people and to identify what we need to do to put the system right.”