Homeless teens pitch tent outside Child Safety
FOUR teenagers under the care of Child Safety are homeless and living in a tent pitched outside a state government department office on the Gold Coast.
The Bulletin has been supplied a photograph of the tent from an adult friend of the boys concerned about their mental and physical health after two months living on the streets.
The friend sent complaints to the department and Child Safety Minister after being told the teenagers had earlier sought refuge in a "drug house" with links to bikies.
The decision by two of the teenagers - brothers aged 17 and 16 - to pitch the tent within full view of Child Safety offices was more a cry for help than a protest, she said.
"The older brother bought the tent with Centrelink money. They feel safer there," the friend said.
"I know when the older one runs away, he knocked on the door of the Child Safety officers at night. He's the sort of kid who is scared of dogs and birds."
The Bulletin has been told both boys have foetal alcohol spectrum disorder. They have been diagnosed with a low IQ and ADHD, and struggle with basic care tasks.
The friend has photographs of the older brother drinking shots of alcohol at 14 and using an ice pipe a year later. Texts from them reveal they are seriously depressed.
In an email to the department, the friend wrote: "Both these brothers are attached to Child Safety and I believe in immediate danger. The boys have been set up for fail. Are we going to wait until they die before we help them?"
The older brother had been removed from a resi-care home after a violent incident.
In a report in February 2019, this newspaper revealed taxpayers were coughing up $500,000 a year for a child in residential care where some teenagers were being left hungry.
In July this year the Bulletin detailed how a 12-year-old homeless girl was being fed KFC and Maccas by Child Safety officers, having left resi-care and joined a teen gang.
The Bulletin understands Child Safety officers have attempted to source placement options but received no responses from agencies.
They had advised the boys to stop by their office if they needed food.
LNP Shadow Health Minister and Mudgeeraba MP Ros Bates told the Bulletin: "My heart breaks for every child that has been neglected by a broken system and sadly these are more cases.
"It's symptomatic of a broken system and a Labor Government that has no plan. Eighteen dead kids under Labor in five years and they've learnt nothing. As a kids in care in Queensland you are more at risk than any other child. It's a disgrace.
"Labor must treat these latest cases on the Gold Coast as a priority because young lives depend on it. We can't wait for a child to die before something is finally done to help these young Queenslanders who are being left behind."
Children and Youth Justice Minister Leanne Linard told the Bulletin: "It's just heartbreaking to hear about children living in these types of circumstances. There are reasons children end up in a situation like this and we are constantly working towards solutions.
"Unfortunately, I am unable to comment on individual cases because of the Child Protection Act 1999."
Originally published as Exclusive: Homeless teens pitch tent outside Child Safety