Candle light vigil for the baby found dead on Surfers Paradise Beach. Homeless man, known only as Wheels, sheds a tear. Picture Glenn Hampson.
Candle light vigil for the baby found dead on Surfers Paradise Beach. Homeless man, known only as Wheels, sheds a tear. Picture Glenn Hampson.

Claims Child Safety didn’t show up to check baby

GOLD Coast police, frustrated that Child Safety repeatedly ignored calls for help, drove a homeless family to a relative across the border two days before a nine-month-old baby's body washed up on a beach.

The drive to Kingscliff last Saturday followed a third visit by police to the family at a Broadbeach park in just 20 hours.

News Corp has been told the Department of Child Safety (DOCS) failed to respond to an urgent call-out by police.

A Tweed toilet block where the family would shelter from the rain.
A Tweed toilet block where the family would shelter from the rain.

A Government source said: "The police have done a lot for the family, tried to, it was reported in the way it should, through Child Safety Services. There's been a few occasions over the last few months."

Despite calls from worried residents about the family since May, government sources, workers around the Broadbeach park and the homeless say the only authorities to visit were police or council staff.

A shelter the family used to sleep in at Broadbeach.
A shelter the family used to sleep in at Broadbeach.

Child Safety Minister Di Farmer refused to say if the department was called to the Broadbeach park by police, citing privacy and court reasons.

News Corp this week reported police were called at 9.50am Friday after a worker heard baby screams and adults yelling. Officers returned at 6pm. Police visited the family nine hours later at 3am Saturday, allegedly finding the father and mother intoxicated. Officers drove them to Kingscliff.

Toilet block near a Broadbeach park where the family often slept.
Toilet block near a Broadbeach park where the family often slept.

Another government source said: "Police at Broadbeach made an urgent call-out job. DOCS didn't come."

Police declined to provide specifics, but said: "Queensland Police did respond to all calls for service relating to this family and appropriate police action was taken."

A worker who phoned police last Friday morning told News Corp: "I was concerned by this guy shouting and carrying on. It was going on for three or four minutes. How can you have this homeless baby in a park with these people who can't control themselves?"

Baby change rooms in toilets next to Twin Towns the family used recently.
Baby change rooms in toilets next to Twin Towns the family used recently.

Police took the family to the father's cousin at Kingscliff. The relative had been known to host up to 12 family members in a one-bedroom unit. After failing to reach agreement, the family caught a bus to Tweed Heads. It is alleged the father tossed the baby into the river that night after telling the mother he was giving the child to an elder.

Indigenous friends yesterday blamed authorities for not intervening. One said the family had sheltered and used new toilet and shower facilities near the Twin Towns Services Club for two months. "The last month when it was raining they had nowhere to sleep," he said.

A Broadbeach park where the family would often sleep.
A Broadbeach park where the family would often sleep.

LNP spokeperson for women Ros Bates said a departmental internal review followed by a Child Death Case Review Panel could take at least nine months before any recommendations.

The department faces criticism about a "reunification at all costs" policy. Staff are said to be frustrated by poor resources and high case loads.

News Corp has previously highlighted unrelated incidents, including attempts to reunite a pot-smoking, violent mother with her four-year-old indigenous daughter who she had bashed, and young twins who were hospitalised after their allegedly cannabis-smoking parents were placed on a parental agreement.

"How long was Child Safety aware of this family?" Ms Bates asked yesterday.

"Does the minister think it is OK for a young child to be living practically under a tarp?"



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