The Queensland government is blaming a lack of software testing for an IT glitch that prevented 644 reports of suspected child abuse being sent through to the state’s police over the last year and a half.
It has hired Deloitte to conduct an immediate review into the system failure and the testing processes in place at the Department of Education to assess how an update to its OneSchool system was allowed to go live six months ago despite serious unidentified flaws.
Late on Friday it became apparent that as many as 644 reports of suspected child abuse made by Queensland schools had never made it through to intended recipients at the Queensland Police Service.
The issue appears to reside with reports sent solely to the QPS - those sent to either the Department of Communities or to both the department and the QPS were successfully received, according to Education Minister Kate Jones.
The Courier Mail reported the Queensland Police had flagged 219 of the lost reports as involving a child “potentially immediate risk", and was following those up with urgency.
The OneSchool project launched in 2003 with the aim of delivering a single standardised platform for Queensland schools that would centrally provide student management, finance and asset management, curriculum and e-learning monitoring and reporting tools across the state.
In January last year, the Department of Education went live with an update to OneSchool that offered school staff a way to meet their mandatory reporting obligations using the common platform.
The add-on was part of the state’s response to the 2013 Carmody Review into child protection, which prompted the government to build better information sharing channels between relevant agencies.
“An investigation by the department has found that the OneSchool system update was never tested properly when it was implemented,” Jones said in a statement yesterday.
“Action was immediately taken to fix OneSchool and the technical problem has been resolved."
The department has already been told to complete its own review of what went wrong, and two departmental staff members have been stood aside over what the minister described as an “unacceptable failure”.
The Deloitte review will commence today and is due to report back in eight weeks.
It will assess how the bug was allowed to slip through the gaps, as well as the general adequacy of software release protocols at the department, options for building a successful report confirmation mechanism into the OneSchool software, and the state government’s overall implementation of the Carmody Review recommendations to date.
Queensland Auditor-General Andrew Greaves had raised concerns about the adequacy of child safety IT systems back in May.
He said the inefficiency of the system meant staff were using insecure workarounds like unprotected emails to share information with their colleagues in the schools system.
The workarounds also meant the department and the system held differing information, including addresses and other contact details, on children.