10 Toowoomba kids may be at risk of sex abuse
POLICE have refused to say whether 10 local children are still at risk of sexual abuse after a computer program blocked schools' attempts to alert police.
Documents obtained by APN Newsdesk under Right to Information legislation revealed some reports sent from principals and teachers in the Toowoomba area through the OneSchool computer system between January 28 and July 30, 2015 did not reach authorities.
School staff in the region sent 139 reports through the OneSchool Student Protection Module during that period.
The program enables confidential reporting about physical, emotional and sexual abuse or potential abuse to the Education and Training Department; the Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services Department and Queensland Police Service.
But the 10 sexual abuse reports sent only to police did not make it through because of a failed IT update. Statewide, 644 reports did not reach police.
Since the IT error was discovered police have been investigating the reports that failed to come through the first time.
But a police spokeswoman said privacy and investigative reasons prevented police from discussing whether charges had been laid or students removed from their parent or carer's custody.
"The Child Safety and Sexual Crimes Group finalised the assessment process and sent the matters to the relevant specialist investigators within the regions for investigation," she said.
"These matters remain ongoing."
The government hired independent auditor Deloitte to investigate the IT failure and make recommendations on how to prevent similar problems in future.
An Education and Training Department spokesperson said all of Deloitte's OneSchool - Technology Review report's recommendations had now been followed or were on track to being implemented.
They said the department had hired two testing officers, one business analyst, one IT support officer and two technical project managers.
"In addition, the department has allocated existing staff with specific skill sets to assist with delivery of the recommendations from the Deloitte report," the spokesperson said.
The group representing state school parent and citizens associations, P&Cs Queensland said the error was extremely unfortunate, but the department and police acted quickly.
P&Cs Queensland chief Kevan Goodworth said they did not receive a flood of inquiries from concerned parents when the error was discovered.
THE OneSchool program failure was caused by a contractor who incorrectly coded software and did not do adequate testing on his work.
The contractor, who was paid $110 an hour, alerted the education department about the issue on July 29 when he discovered the problem while reviewing the software code for an unrelated bug.
He immediately fixed the error.
But Deloitte found there were warning signs much earlier.
There were reports to the education department's OneSchool IT helpdesk as well as teacher and principal inquiries to the education department child safety senior advisor.
Although education department staff attempted to resolve the issues, at a March meeting an education department officer had dismissed report delivery issues as a problem "at the QPS end".
An Education and Training Department spokesperson said the contractor responsible for coding and testing the upgrade was fired. The director-general also sacked an assistant director-general and an executive director in the fallout from the failure.
- APN NEWSDESK