29 Nov 2016

Kids may be taken off Aus parents who fail drug tests

1:31 pm on 29 November 2016

Parents of at-risk children in north-eastern Australia will face mandatory random drug testing under a new policy introduced by the Queensland government, but the Opposition has said the policy misses the mark.

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Photo: Wikipedia

Child Safety Minister Shannon Fentiman said meth, or ice, was putting too many children at risk.

She said parents who entered into an intervention with parental agreement (IPA) would be forced to undergo mandatory drug testing.

Under the IPAs, parents developed a safety plan with child safety officers, Ms Fentiman said.

"This is a zero-tolerance measure that puts the safety of children first and foremost," she said.

"If the information suggests there is ice use and the children are unsafe, we will remove the children.

"It will be up to the discretion of the child safety officer and it will depend on whether or not there's a history of drug use or what sort of suspicion we hold."

She said the drug tests would give child safety officers extra information to assess cases.

Drug tests would be conducted by GPs.

Any parent who failed or missed a test would have their children placed into foster care.

Opposition child safety spokeswoman Ros Bates said there was already a policy requiring addicted parents to consent to drug testing.

She said the new program missed the mark.

"Drug testing wouldn't have made an ounce of difference to Mason Lee because child safety didn't even go to see him in hospital," she said, referring to the Caboolture toddler who died in June from suspected abuse.

"So the child safety officer took an order out without ever having sighted the child.

"Drug testing of parents won't make any difference in child safety if we don't have child safety officers with enough resources to investigate the kids in the first place."

But Ms Fentiman said the widespread availability and use of meth were big problems that needed to be addressed.

"Ice is cheap to manufacture, easy to buy and sadly all too readily available, particularly among disadvantaged socio-economic groups," Ms Fentiman said.

"It presents a real challenge to police, health workers and to our child safety officers when it comes to making an assessment about whether or not parents are up to the job of looking after their children."

She said 1937 children were currently subject to an IPA, under which parents agreed to work with Child Safety to ensure their children were adequately cared for.

- ABC