The State Government has appointed an external reviewer to review all coronial and other recommendations relating to child protection in South Australia.
Ms Kate Alexander, an Executive Director of the Office of the Senior Practitioner for the New South Wales Department of Family and Community Services, will undertake the review. She also has vast experience as an expert witness in NSW coronial proceedings and Royal Commission Hearings.
Ms Alexander’s appointment comes after South Australia’s Deputy Coroner, Anthony Schapel, handed down his findings into the tragic deaths of Amber Rose Rigney and Korey Lee Mitchell in April.
Upon the release of the Deputy Coroner’s report, the State Government resolved to accept all the recommendations, and reiterated the critical importance of a whole of government response to vulnerable children and their families, and to seek further investment in child protection services.
The first of the Coronial recommendations was to review all coronial and other recommendations relating to child protection in South Australia.
The State Government advised at the time it would appoint an external reviewer to undertake this recommended action and sought to find someone with extensive knowledge of child protection systems.
Ms Alexander has a Masters of Social Work (Family Therapy) and has worked in the fields of child protection and sexual assault services for over 25 years. She has recently been accepted to undertake a PhD at the University of Melbourne, focused on decision making in child protection, particularly where domestic violence is involved.
Minister for Child Protection, Hon Katrine Hildyard MP, welcomed Ms Alexander’s appointment, saying she brings with her ‘a wealth of in-depth knowledge and experience as a lead practitioner and child protection systems expert’.
“We were looking to appoint someone with extensive knowledge of child protection and who can navigate complex stakeholder relationships and positively engage with those who have experience of the child protection system; and I believe Ms Alexander to be that person,” Minister Hildyard said.
“In 2010 she was awarded a Churchill Fellowship and travelled to the United Kingdom, Norway and America to research child protection systems with a focus on the skill set of the frontline work force. This research led to the development of the NSW Practice First Framework and the NSW Practice Standards.
“This Government will continue to do everything in its power to prevent tragedies like this occurring again.”
Ms Alexander said she applauded the approach of the South Australian government to this tragedy.
“I look forward to working with the child protection department to understand how it could be strengthened so it is best equipped to respond to children at risk,” she said.
“There is no more important work than that of child protection.
“I am keen to shine a light on it and its great potential for keeping children safe.”