4 August 2015

Update on child protection reporting

Last Thursday (30 July), the Department of Education became aware of a system failure in the OneSchool module update that was implemented on 22 January. Since then, the Queensland Teachers’ Union (QTU), has been briefed on Friday, Sunday and yesterday (Monday) concerning this issue.

The system failure relates to the Student Protection reporting module that was updated on 22 January to enact the recommendations of the Carmody Report commissioned by the then government. As a result of a coding error, reports forwarded to police only were not being transmitted and thus, not received by police. Report authors were falsely receiving acknowledgement emails confirming their reports had been forwarded. The Queensland Police Service was unaware, because it only affected one category of notifications and police were receiving notifications under the other categories.

As soon as the failure was identified, the Department took immediate action and the error was fixed that evening (30 July).  

Queensland Police were also immediately notified and over the weekend Department of Education officers worked with QPS to assess 644 cases that were not forwarded to police as result of the system failure on 22 January. QPS have now completed their initial triage of the cases and are continuing to investigate the reports.

At a briefing with the QTU yesterday (3 August), Minister Kate Jones said student safety and protection was her number one priority. She apologised for any distress the January 22 OneSchool implementation failure may have caused principals and teachers. She acknowledged the important work that is done by QTU members in conjunction with child safety officers and the police.

In response to a question from the QTU, she said that the department had provided preliminary advice that principals and teachers, having lodged the notifications with the honest and reasonable belief that the IT system was working, had taken the steps required of them, and that the failure had arisen from an IT error. 

The QTU also took preliminary legal advice last Friday. Our advice is consistent with that of the department, that principals and teachers, having followed the department’s instructions about notifications, had no responsibility for the failure of the reporting system. Legal assistance is available from the QTU in the event that any issues are subsequently raised with QTU members.  

The Minister ordered an external investigation to look into the decisions that led to the failed implementation of the OneSchool update on 22 January, which will be undertaken by Deloitte. This investigation is estimated to take approximately eight weeks. Both the Premier and the Minister have given a commitment that the report will be made public.

An internal review of all IT projects is also being undertaken to ensure that all processes are being followed.

As at midday on Monday, the department had made direct contact with over 90 per cent of the 325 schools whose notifications were mishandled as a result of this failure, in addition to contact by email. Similar communications are being made with all schools. Assistant Director-General, Bevan Brennan has been assigned to respond to any parents being interviewed by the police as a result of these notifications. He is also the contact for any questions principals and teachers may have about this matter

The Minister and the department have promised to keep the QTU and other stakeholders informed of developments and we will provide further information to members as necessary. Any enquiries from members concerning this situation should be forwarded to the QTU Brisbane office through qtu@qtu.asn.au

Graham Moloney
General Secretary