Two senior bureaucrats from the Queensland Department of Education have been sacked over a system upgrade glitch that prevented almost 1,000 suspected child abuse cases in the state's schools from being reported to police.
Director-General Jim Watterson announced on Wednesday that an assistant director-general and an executive director have both been stood down over the OneSchool reporting failure, effective immediately.
Additionally, Watterson said another departmental staff member has been issued a show cause notice, and contractors directly responsible for coding and testing the OneSchool upgrade have also had their contracts terminated.
The OneSchool system was updated in January, and was designed to allow school principals to report suspected child abuse directly and simultaneously to Child Safety Services and Queensland Police (QPS).
Since the upgrade, whenever reports were filed by principals, an "IT error" prevented the reports from being delivered to the agencies. It meant category three, or lower-tier, reports of suspected abuse never reached police.
In August, Deloitte Australia was appointed by the Queensland government to undertake an independent investigation into the system failure, charging the auditor with the task of looking into the decisions, procedures, and accountability systems that led up to the failed implementations of the OneSchool update.
The government is adopting all 21 recommendations of Deloitte's review.
"The report found that processes, governance, and organisational factors contributed to the failure," Watterson said. "I am firmly committed to ensuring the safety and welfare of all students under the department's care continues to be my highest priority."
Education Minister Kate Jones has also attributed blame to deputy opposition leader John-Paul Langbroek, who served in her role in the former government.
Jones said Langbroek was responsible for the shift to online reporting, and needed to explain why his government sacked 230 IT workers during the transition period.
When the glitch was initially found, Jones blamed it on the department not carrying out proper tests when the update was implemented.
"Since the error was discovered, departmental officers have been working with QPS to assess the cases," she said. "Action was immediately taken to fix OneSchool, and the technical problem has been resolved."
The OneSchool upgrade was implemented in January, when the previous government was in caretaker mode before the election, but was not live tested. Jones said the Deloitte report found serious flaws in the risk assessment undertaken prior to the implementation of the major software update.
The opposition, however, has claimed the government is using the Deloitte report to shift attention away from its ongoing controversies surrounding embattled crossbench MP Billy Gordon.
"The Department of Education did not receive one cent of the AU$406 million the Newman government spent on child protection reforms, and Langbroek needs to explain why he accepted no funding for a department that was the second-largest reporting agency when it comes to child abuse," Jones said.
She said Queenslanders deserve to know why Langbroek never held meetings with the QPS to discuss the change to the way principals, teachers, and school staff report cases of suspected child abuse.
"Langbroek diaries show he never met with the department's Child Protection Implementation Committee to discuss what action his department was taking to ensure the safety of Queensland children," she said.
"He was a minister responsible for more than 770,000 students across Queensland, but he couldn't even be bothered to be in Parliament when the child protection legislation was debated."
It was initially thought that 644 reports were lost in the system, but manual checks later revealed the number was closer to 1,000.
"I am advised that there is no evidence that children suffered further harm as a result of the IT failure," Jones said. "Like all Queensland parents, I want to be certain such a failure does not happen again, and that's why we will implement the recommendations of this report in full."