Convicted criminals are able to care for foster children, despite their lengthy rap sheets.
Concerns have been raised about a ‘loophole’ allowing criminals to be able to foster vulnerable children in light of the murder of Tiahleigh Palmer.
Rick Thorburn was sentenced to life in prison after he pleaded guilty to the murder of his 12-year-old foster daughter, whose decomposed body was found by fishermen on the banks of the Pimpama River in Queensland on November 5, 2015.
Thorburn’s criminal history has since surfaced, revealing a long list of offences spanning from 1977 to 1997.
The foster care system has been slammed for putting murdered schoolgirl Tiahleigh Palmer (pictured) in the care of Rick Thorburn after his twenty-year-long rap sheet was revealed
Tiahleigh Palmer’s foster father Rick Thorburn (pictured) pleaded guilty to the schoolgirl’s murder in the Brisbane Supreme Court on Friday
Tiahleigh’s death led to reviews of protocols on cases of children who go missing while in out-of-home care
The New South Wales Opposition has called for the laws, which allow people with criminal convictions aside from sex offences, crimes against children and murder, to be able to foster children.
Thorburn’s offences included stealing, break and enter, drink driving and other traffic offences.
The Queensland father was even a wanted man for crimes relating to trucking fines.
Despite his long rap sheet, Thorburn passed a host of tests which allowed him to become a foster father to Tiahleigh in 2014.
He passed a working-with-children check, successfully got his Blue Card and went on to run a family day care business with his wife at the family home.
The Family and Community Services Department was unable to say how many criminals are currently looking after children in NSW, the Daily Telegraph reported.
Opposition family and community services spokeswoman Tania Mihailuk said people with lengthy criminal records should be barred from caring for foster children.
A Department of Community Services spokeswoman said carers were reviewed each year and were subjected to frequent monitoring.
Thorburn was accepted into the foster care system because he was never charged with more serious crimes like assault, sexual assault or crimes against children.
Following the murder of Tiahleigh, the Queensland Government said it would review the Blue Card system, and look into the requirements a person needed to become a foster carer.
LNP member for Mudgeeraba Ros Bates questioned the Queensland system and rubbished it for allowing someone like Thorburn to be in a position of responsibility.
Queensland Opposition Leader Ros Bates slammed the foster care system saying Tiahleigh shouldn’t have been placed with two teenage boys
Trent Thorburn (pictured), Rick’s 20-year-old son, was released in January after serving 16 months in jail for incest, perjury and attempting to pervert the course of justice
An autopsy was conducted but due to the state of her body a cause of death was never determined (pictured are police divers searching the Pimpama River for evidence)
Part of his plan, which was told to the family, was to dispose of Tiahleigh’s body, which was found unclothed but for her underpants (pictured are police divers searching the Pimpama River for evidence)
‘I don’t think if you have criminal history as long as your arm, even if it isn’t to do with child offences, that people like him should have ever been considered,’ Ms Bates told the Courier Mail.
‘Tiahleigh Palmer was never missing. She was right where Child Safety put her, back with her eventual murderer.’
Appearing on A Current Affair on Friday, Ms Bates said Tiahleigh should never have been put in a foster family with two teenage boys.
‘It was an inappropriate placement. Why on earth would you put a prepubescent girl with two teenage boys?’ she said.
Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston acknowledged the foster system needed a shake-up, but said ruling out anyone with a criminal history was not the answer.
Ms Johnston said it was already difficult enough to find foster carers.
‘It’s easy to criticise but there aren’t enough foster carers… we need to start looking at a character assessment,’ she said.
Tiahleigh’s (pictured) body was dumped in the Pimpama River, and found six days after she went missing while in the care of Thorburn and his family