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Article by Steven Wardill, The Courier-Mail
Negligent parents will be forced to undertake mandatory drug testing by the Department of Child Safety in order to keep their children. The new testing regimen will be introduced by the State Government as it battles the ice epidemic and its effect on families. Thousands of parents who sign up to agreements with the department each year to avoid their children being removed will be required to undertake the testing.
The drug test requirement comes after the tragic death of Caboolture toddler Mason Jet Lee, whose parents signed up to a so-called “Intervention with Parental Agreement”. Further testing and treatment, along with restriction on living at particular addresses, are also being considered in a bid to beef up the state’s protection of vulnerable children. The drug test requirement comes after the tragic death of Caboolture toddler Mason Jet Lee, whose parents signed up to a so-called “Intervention with Parental Agreement” (IPA) arrangement with the department.
A fourth child safety officer who dealt with Mason’s case was yesterday stood down by the department as numerous reviews assess how the system failed the 21-month-old. Child Safety Minister Shannon Fentiman insisted the Government would take a “zero tolerance” approach to drugs and ensure the safety of children was paramount.
“(Ice) 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.,
“That’s why parents will have to agree to random drug testing as a precondition for entering into an IPA.
“This is about keeping kids safe. If mum and dad aren’t up to the job because they are using drugs, we will take action.” The frequency of the drug tests will be at the discretion of child safety officers.
Ms Fentiman said drug testing agreements would only be used when officers deemed it fit for children to stay at home.
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