SA Child Protection Department chief quits

Department for Child Protection chief executive Cathy Taylor has resigned following months of intense scrutiny surrounding the deaths of two South Australian children whose families had contact with her agency.

Jan 27, 2023, updated Jan 30, 2024
Outgoing Department for Child Protection chief executive Cathy Taylor. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

Outgoing Department for Child Protection chief executive Cathy Taylor. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

Premier Peter Malinauskas announced a short time ago that Taylor had advised him this morning that she would leave the position on April 28.

He thanked Taylor for serving in the role since October 2016, describing child protection as a “complex and highly challenging area of public policy”.

Taylor’s resignation comes after the state’s child protection system was once again in the spotlight over the past year, following the deaths of six-year-old Munno Para girl Charlie Nowland in July and seven-year-old Craigmore boy Makai Wanganeen in February.

Police are investigating whether both children, whose families had contact with the Department for Child Protection, were criminally neglected in the lead-up to their deaths.

Both deaths sparked public outcry, leading to a review by former police commissioner Mal Hyde, and a commitment by Malinauskas to conduct urgent welfare checks on about 500 South Australian children who were identified as living in “extremely vulnerable” situations.

Taylor has faced sustained questioning over her department’s involvement with the children’s families and its processes for dealing with at-risk children.

In recent years, she has also been criticised for not being aware that a 13-year-old girl in state care had fallen pregnant to a pedophile until a journalist asked the department to respond to the court sentencing remarks, which were made public.

Taylor’s department was also the subject of a review by child protection expert Kate Alexander, which was commissioned following the April release of a coronial inquest into the murder of siblings Amber Rigney, 6, and Korey Mitchell, 5.

Malinauskas said the government would start a global recruitment process to find Taylor’s replacement.

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“My government has a strong commitment to ensuring the child protection system has the resources it needs to keep our children safe,” he said.

“This includes implementing recommendations made by Mal Hyde and Kate Alexander, allocating an extra $155.6 million to the department, and providing a $7.5 million funding boost in child protection grants to non-government organisations to support children and young people in care and their carers.”

Taylor previously worked as a deputy director-general for Queensland’s Child Family and Community Services and as a director of ANROWS – Australia’s National Research Organisation on Women’s Safety. 

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