A young boy witnessed his father assault a woman but Child Safety officers deemed him and his siblings “not in need of protection’’.
A young boy witnessed his father assault a woman but Child Safety officers deemed him and his siblings “not in need of protection’’.

Man said he had 'right' to see kids, then killed their mum

A WIFE killer was allowed to watch his terrified ex-partner give birth because hospital staff felt he had "a right'' to see his baby, in breach of a protection order for domestic violence.

The man later murdered the mother after tracking her down through care arrangements for their daughter, The Courier-Mail can reveal today.

A young teenager who witnessed his father brutally bash a woman with a baseball bat killed himself after Child Safety officers left the boy in his violent home.

And a teenage girl who suffered a decade of domestic violence committed suicide a day after a Child Safety worker questioned her in front of her parents.

The shocking deaths are exposed in the first report of the State Government's Domestic and Family Violence Death Review and Advisory Board, chaired by Coroner Terry Ryan.

The report warns that family violence has become "normalised'' in some communities.

It criticises the "lenient sentencing'' of violent abusers handed short or suspended sentences, despite inflicting "significant physical injuries'' on their partners.

State Coroner Terry Ryan chairs the State Government’s Family Violence Death Review and Advisory Board. Picture: Liam Kidston
State Coroner Terry Ryan chairs the State Government’s Family Violence Death Review and Advisory Board. Picture: Liam Kidston

And it reveals that Child Safety officers have interviewed abused children "in front of persons alleged to cause harm''.

"We can, and should, do more to protect victims and their children,'' it says.

The report details how an Aboriginal boy in his early teens killed himself last year after lifelong exposure to domestic violence at home.

The boy had witnessed his father bash a woman with a baseball bat, and watched his stepfather punch and strangle his mother while she was pregnant.

Despite fielding "multiple notifications'' of abuse, Child Safety officers deemed the boy and his siblings "not in need of protection''.

"In their assessments of harm, the children seeking assistance from neighbours, or calling for help, was noted as a protective factor,'' the report says.

"Specifically that the mother protects children by having them remove themselves from home and to contact police.''

Child Safety Minister Di Farmer says the department has added more staff to cope with the growing workload. Picture: Tara Croser
Child Safety Minister Di Farmer says the department has added more staff to cope with the growing workload. Picture: Tara Croser

Child Safety Minister Di Farmer yesterday said the boy's suicide was a "tragic case and we want to make sure we are doing everything we possibly can to prevent future tragedies''.

She said her department had "dramatically increased staff numbers and training'', with funding to hire 400 extra Child Safety staff.

The board's report reveals how a teenage girl living in a violent home killed herself the day after a Child Safety officer interviewed her in front of her parents, "resulting in minimal disclosures by her''.

"Such a process may have prohibited a more open disclosure of her experiences of violence within the immediate familial network, or suicidal behaviours,'' the report says.

Ms Farmer said her department's policy was that "where possible interviews with children do not occur in the presence of the person alleged to have hurt them''.

"However, it is not always clear at the beginning of an investigation who the alleged perpetrator might be,'' she said.

Case studies revealing Queensland’s DV shame.
Case studies revealing Queensland’s DV shame.

The report reveals that one woman murdered by her ex partner was forced to give birth in front of him, despite a protection order.

"The response from the hospital staff at that time was reportedly, 'He is the father and he has a right to be here,' even after security intervened because he was verbally abusive to a family member of the victim, who was a named person on the order,'' the report says.

A soldier killed his ex-wife last year when they met to discuss child custody arrangements.

He had "disclosed homicidal intent'' to army doctors but this was not reported to police or the victim, a mother in her mid-twenties.

Seventeen Queenslanders were killed in domestic disputes in 2016/17 and 42 per cent of them had been granted protection orders against their attackers.

Alcohol or drug abuse was a factor in nearly 90 per cent of deaths, and the board wants the state government to prioritise rehabilitation services for families suffering domestic violence.

Need help?

Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 or kidshelpline.com.au

DV Connect 1800 811 811 or dvconnect.org



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