QUEENSLAND, Australia police can't guarantee children haven't been harmed because of an embarrassing government computer glitch that caused more than 600 cases of suspected child sexual abuse to go unreported.
AFTER reviewing all 644 cases, specialist child protection officers have been conducting urgent welfare checks on children they consider most at risk.
Education Minister Kate Jones last week revealed a coding error in a departmental computer program stopped some public school principals' reports of suspected abuse since January from being received by police.
She announced on Sunday that, from Monday, auditors Deloitte would conduct an eight-week external review into the department's processes to find out how the gaffe happened and how to prevent it recurring.
|Education Minister Kate Jones|
Meanwhile police said that 219 of the most urgent cases have been "triaged" and the rest would also be looked at in coming days.
Good job, since the error was only discovered on Thursday. Wish someone had noticed that reports were not coming in for 7 months and asked a few questions, but, at least you are responding well now.
"Out of the 219 (cases), there will be a number of matters where the child will be deemed potentially at immediate risk," Acting Assistant Commissioner Cameron Harsley said.
"So the police will be attending residences throughout Queensland."
Ms Jones said she had been receiving daily updates from police, who are yet to rule out the possibility that children had been harmed because of the gaffe.
"It is heartbreaking to hear that the police feel that that could be the case," Ms Jones said.
"(But) I have absolute confidence in the police and the thorough work they are doing to review all 644 reports."
Ms Jones said Deloitte's audit would also look at what responsibility her department's director-general, Dr Jim Watterson, had for the bungle.
|Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk|
"Why was the system not tested under the former education minister's (John-Paul Langbroek) watch?" Ms Palaszczuk said at a community forum in Brisbane.
"I'm actually furious about what's happened here and we are going to absolutely get to the bottom of it."
A principal raised the alarm on Thursday after checking to see why his reports weren't followed up.
School principals had been receiving receipts from the system to let them know when a complaint had been successfully sent, but the coding error meant police never received category three, or lower-tier, reports.
The error has since been fixed.