Devastating Error Sees Alleged Abuser Given Family’s Details
A battered mother and her sons have been forced to flee for a second time after Queensland's Child Safety Department sent the boys' violent father details about their secret new life.
Child Safety Minister Shannon Fentiman says the "devastating error" has been referred to the Ethical Standards unit for investigation.
It's emerged someone in the department accidentally sent the woman's ex-partner details about the boys' new school, their counsellor and the local sports they were playing as they tried to rebuild their lives.
Their tormentor 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.
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.
The woman's family has told The Gold Coast Bulletin she has been forced into hiding, with the man out for a week before they learned about it on social media.
That's despite the man having attacked the woman, threatened her life from jail, and being subject to a domestic violence order, they said.
In relation to the mother and sons, Ms Fentiman said they'd received a personal apology from her department's director-general, had been offered further counselling and relocation costs after the woman had to pull her boys out of their new school.
We are proud supporters of Queensland Child Protection Week. Together, let’s play a role in ensuring children are always nurtured and safe. pic.twitter.com/u2OsnwAxym— Queensland Police (@QldPolice) September 3, 2017
"An incorrect version of a document containing confidential information was sent in error. This was a serious and devastating mistake for the family involved and should never have happened," Ms Fentiman said in a statement.
"The department continues to work with the family to ensure their ongoing safety."
Opposition child safety spokeswoman Ros Bates says systems that should protect vulnerable women and children are clearly in crisis.
She says the child safety department's mistake could have cost the woman her life, and it had "re-traumatised" her and her sons.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk must personally apologise to the family, Ms Bates told ABC radio.
"Victims of domestic violence need to have confidence the system will protect them not leave them exposed."
Corrective Services says domestic violence victims could join a new register to ensure they're told about key developments in their attackers' cases, including prison release dates.
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 killed himself after killing her.
National domestic violence helpline: 1800 737 732 or 1800RESPECT. In an emergency call triple-zero.
Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.
MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78.