The Next Child

In a world where we see tragedy on the news every night, more and more of us are becoming immune to the everyday grumbles of working people.

The ongoing tune being sung by those in Parliament House is that we’re broke. WA’s boom time is over and now we’re are sitting in a $4billion deficit. 

But shouldn’t that mean instead of spending big, taxpayer funds should be going to absolute priority services? Services that save lives, support and protect.

This year the state government stripped over $2million from the Child Protection budget, as well as cutting preventative services that were funded by Royalties for Regions.

DCP staff can scream as loud as they want about getting more caseworkers, more money, more support to help make sure the children they are designated to protect are looked after. But unfortunately, in this day and age, it takes a tragedy for the public to take notice.

The chants of “Budget cuts, jobs gone, the government is failing” becomes white noise until a child, in the care of the state, dies.

Then people take notice.

Then the government launches an inquiry; trying to figure out what went so horribly wrong.

Well this is the warning sign.

667 kids are currently on the “monitored list”. A list that identifies highly at risk kids but who can’t be given a caseworker… because there is none available.

The Hon. Stephen Dawson is the Shadow Minister for Child Protection and says the current landscape for DCP is a real concern.

“We’ve got caseloads that are going through the roof and jobs in the department aren’t being filled.

“The last question I asked in parliament was why was there 80 jobs vacant and only six being advertised.

“And we got huge numbers of kids on the monitored list that aren’t getting looked after – and that’s not caseworkers fault. It is an issue for the state government.”

Mr. Dawson also says preventative services are a smart way to govern, saving taxpayers money and being able to support families rather than taking children into full care.

“I would prioritise Parenting WA services. It’s a disgrace that has been cut.

“We’ve got a Price Waterhouse Coopers report telling us that the state saves $7 for every dollar that is put into that program.

“It’s a no brainer. But what we have from this government is the wrong priorities.

“Their spending money on stadiums or things like the Ord River project – where the Auditor General has just come out and said there is over $114million in wastage.

“Yet children are falling through the cracks,” He said.

And for the inevitable next child, we already know where to place the blame.

This government does not have enough caseworkers for the number of children desperately needing help and protection.

This is this warning sign in black and white.