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Qld child safety review broadened

AAP logoAAP 25/09/2016 Jamie McKinnell

The Queensland government has offered a promise of "total transparency" to members of an expert panel who will help review child safety systems in the wake of the Tiahleigh Palmer case.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, returning from a holiday, on Sunday appointed the panel, including Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston and Foster Care Queensland chief executive Bryan Smith.

"We will do this thoroughly because it is the right thing to do and we'll get to the bottom of it," Ms Palaszczuk said.

"Tiahleigh should never have had to die in that manner."

The 12-year-old's foster father Rick Thorburn, 56, was on Tuesday charged with the schoolgirl's murder and his youngest son Trent, 19, is also behind bars, accused of having sex with her.

The panel will help inform an already-announced review headed by family and child commissioner Cheryl Vardon, who said she hoped to progressively implement reforms.

"At the heart of this whole process is rigorous checks on individuals' histories, information-sharing between departments and continuing to maintain rigorous oversight of all people with blue cards," Ms Vardon said.

She will conduct "carefully-targeted" public consultation.

While keen to point out the majority of Queensland's 5000 foster carers were "compassionate, loving people who open their homes to vulnerable children", Ms Vardon flagged possible changes to how carers are assessed.

Ms Johnston, a self-proclaimed "vocal" child safety advocate, was eager to begin a "deep, forensic" examination.

"The commitment given is that they're going to be totally transparent with us," she said.

"I'm excited because it might save another child's life.

"None of us want to see another Tiahleigh Palmer."

Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls said only a fully-independent, external probe headed by a figure such as a former Supreme Court judge would be able to ask the right questions.

"This is the review you have when you don't want a full, independent inquiry," Mr Nicholls said.

He slammed Child Safety Minister Shannon Fentiman, who was not at Ms Palaszczuk's press conference, as "incompetent" and "embarrassing".

Ms Palasczcuk said Ms Fentiman's absence shouldn't be read as a sign she had been overridden.

"There has been nothing that has indicated to me that she is not fulfilling her ministerial responsibilities," she said.

Ms Palaszczuk wanted panel member Linda Apelt, a former Department of Communities director-general, to consider the impact of 225 frontline child safety job cuts under the former LNP government.

Mr Nicholls insisted the jobs were "business process positions" and didn't believe the move was relevant.

Mr Smith defended the foster care system as "stretched", but not in crisis.

"The most common complaint is information sharing," he said.

Enquiries to the group's recruitment line have more than doubled to 30 a day since last week, Mr Smith revealed.

"I wouldn't have expected it. It's fantastic."

Thorburn's partner Julene, 54, and other son Josh, 20, received bail on charges of perjury and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Police remain at the Thorburns' Chambers Flat acreage, digging up the backyard in the search for evidence including Tiahleigh's school uniform and backpack, which have never been recovered since her body was found on the banks of the Pimpama River last October.

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