Broader inquiry needed into managing at-risk children
The Community and Public Sector Union/Civil Service Association has called for a broader inquiry into the Department for Child Protection and Family Support because inadequate resources are hindering the management of children at risk.
CPSU/CSA branch assistant secretary Rikki Hendon made the request after giving evidence at a public hearing on Monday afternoon that is reviewing how the department manages children at risk.
Particular reference has been made of the case of teenager father in department care who was convicted of the manslaughter of his infant son earlier this year.
While she didn’t have specific information about the tragic case Ms Hendon said it was a symptom of a system under immense pressure where staff were struggling with inadequate resourcing and excessive workload.
At the Community Development and Justice Standing Committee hearing Ms Hendon highlighted many examples why the inquiry should be expanded including:
- Excessive workload leading to delays in safety and and wellbeing assessments being done in a timely manner;
- Contact between parents and children taken into care being significantly hampered by a lack of resources: and
- Increased demand on Working with Children Checks but no increase in resources, particularly in the compliance section.
“Inadequate resourcing is hindering the department’s ability to manage children at risk,” Ms Hendon said.
“We have presented detailed information from members that shows what happens when there are not enough resources to protect vulnerable children.”
Between 2009 and 2013 full-time child protection staff numbers had only increased by 47.3 and over the same period there had been an increase of almost 800 children brought into care.
“As the number of children entering care continues to grow, so do the demands of workers in Child Protection.”