ChildStory update

Dec 6, 2017

ChildStory update – December 2017 (PDF version)

It is very disappointing that despite the PSA’s meetings with the Minister, Pru Goward and the Secretary, Michael Coutts-Trotter, where we raised the many problems with ChildStory, the decision to go live was not further delayed. The rest of the state will go -live on Tuesday 12 December despite the numerous defects.

Impact on practitioners

The impact on caseworkers, managers, administrative support staff and so many other roles which depend on ChildStory to do their work is predicated to be acute. Caseworkers’ ability to do their tasks and create records reflecting work undertaken will be seriously compromised to the point it may directly impact on the safety of children and young people.

Next steps

The PSA has again written to the Secretary (click HERE) outlining problems being experienced by members and seeking a detailed briefing. Unless the Department takes steps to fix the defects in ChildStory, the PSA will consider all available options, including industrial action. We will continue agitate until ChildStory is fit for purpose.

KIDS read only

The PSA has previously raised the issue of using dual systems and the inherent dangers in doing so with the Secretary. Nevertheless members are having to use KIDS as read only to access children’s records due to defects in ChildStory.

Members are invited to contact the PSA with feedback of their experience of ChildStory following the state go-live to FACSOrganising@psa.asn.au.

United we bargain, divided we beg – a unionised workplace is a fairer one!

Burwood CSC members meeting

Dec 5, 2017

Burwood CSC members meeting – December 2017 (PDF version)

During a recent visit to Burwood CSC, your PSA organiser was asked to hold a members’ meeting to discuss recent developments at your workplace. Members flagged concerns around the office relocation and the upcoming launch of Childstory.

We will also discuss the union’s ongoing campaign for Community Services, ‘Safe Hands’, and touch on the union-wide ‘Change the Rules’ campaign.

The meeting will be open to members and non-members, and there will be an opportunity for people not already in the union to join.

12 December 2017

12pm-1pm

Conference Room

Your PSA organisers Mary Jo Costache and Jose Vasquez will be in attendance.

If you have any questions or concerns in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact our Member Support Centre on 1300 772 679.

Reminder: Have you done the PSA Accreditation survey?

Dec 4, 2017

Reminder – Have you done the PSA Accreditation survey – December 2017 (PDF version)

OOHC Accreditation – unmanageable workloads

We are gathering information on how this is impacting on workers in Community Services and would like to hear from you.

It only takes a few minutes to fill out the survey and all responses will be kept strictly confidential.

No individual respondent will be identified.

CLICK HERE TO DO THE SURVEY.

Already filled out the survey? Please update question 19

Unfortunately there was a glitch in the original survey. If you have the time please update question 19 to indicate which CSC you work in.

We understand some people may not wish to identify this location. However, you can feel confident that all responses will be kept strictly confidential and no individual respondent will be identified.

PSA Survey: OOHC Accreditation – unmanageable workloads

Nov 27, 2017

PSA Survey OOHC Accreditation – unmanageable workloads – November 2017 (PDF version)

The PSA met with Minister Goward on Thursday 23 November following the Hunter New England District failing to meet accreditation for Out Of Home Care. Responsibility must lie with senior management who have dropped the ball on this.

We know the response from management that you would have to work harder has caused anxiety for members in the District. Community Services staff deal with the most traumatised children in a very difficult work environment and always do their best to protect children and work with their families.

Caseworkers and all other staff involved in accreditation have been pushed to the limits.

Indeed, far too many have sacrificed their own time trying to meet what are unmanageable work demands. It is crystal clear the district is under-resourced. Yet, not one word of recognition or appreciation has been offered by FACS. Staff have simply been told that they “will need to work harder”.

We are gathering information on how this is impacting on workers in Community Services and would like to hear from you.

It takes only a few minutes to fill out the survey and all responses will be kept strictly confidential. No individual respondent will be identified.

CLICK HERE TO COMPLETE THE SURVEY.

Childstory – PSA makes one last attempt to urge Minister Goward to delay Go Live

Nov 24, 2017

Childstory – PSA makes one last attempt to urge Minister Goward to delay Go Live – November 2017 (PDF version)

Community Services DC Chair Brendan McMenamin, DC Secretary Heather Shields, Assistant General Secretary Troy Wright and Industrial Officer Carmel McKeough met with Minister for Community Services, the Hon Pru Goward on 23 November 2017. In attendance from the Department of Community Services were Secretary Michael Coutts-Trotter and Deputy Secretary Deidre Mulkerin.

We reiterated yet again that ChildStory is simply not ready to Go Live on 28 November 2017.

The PSA advised the Minister of our concerns about:

  • the fact defects are evident in the new system despite the assurances of the Department critical defects are being addressed
  • the short time left to complete data migration – we were advised that 78,000 million records had migrated and that all essential records will be migrated by 26 November 2017
  • that ChildStory participant manuals are inaccurate in parts
  • existing support documentation is superficial and practice manuals, recording guides and policy guidelines have not been provided to staff as promised
  • the time for training has been completely inadequate
  • the staff initially trained in the first two weeks received inadequate training due to poor data set up and defects
  • coaches in districts are expected to carry a heavy caseload whilst being available to coach
  • legal officers will no longer have the capacity to make track changes in Child Story which will add to their workload and is contrary to the goal of reducing the time spent on paperwork
  • lack of support to Community Services Centres as Child Story is rolled out – the Department did not accept this and will provide the PSA with more detailed information about exactly what caseworkers can expect
  • there is a real risk that rushed implementation of ChildStory will result in problems with carers’ payments – the Department acknowledged this could occur and that contingency plans will be put in place to do manual payments.

The Department openly acknowledged there will be problems post Go Live. Minister Goward listened to our concerns, particularly the potential for ChildStory to cause a delay to carers’ payments at Christmas and our strong recommendation to wait until next year to Go Live so these problems can be rectified.

This meeting represented one last and significant attempt by the PSA to put our arguments to the Minister and encourage common sense instead of rushed implementation.

At the very least we are confident the Minister is seeking further urgent advice from her senior bureaucrats after our meeting.

The PSA also referred to the current situation in Hunter/New England, where staff have been placed in the position of having to transition to ChildStory at the same time they have been told to work harder to attain OCG accreditation.

We reiterated there has been poor leadership and a clear lack of planning in Hunter/ New England with staff unsupported and inadequately resourced. We will be having further discussions with the Department at the State Community Services Joint Consultative Committee meeting on 27 November 2017 about this priority matter and the adverse impact on members.

Lastly, there was brief discussion about the State Government’s response to the Upper House Inquiry into Child Protection. We urged the Government to reconsider it positon in relation to the recommendation “to extend the performance audit function of the Auditor-General to include audits of all non-government organisations who have been provided with state funding to deliver children protection related services”.

The PSA gave detailed examples of the end result of the lack of accountability and its impact on vulnerable children and young people.

We were advised the Government is currently undertaking a regulatory impact analysis to consider future options to improve accountability.

Hunter New England District OOHC accreditation

Nov 3, 2017

Hunter New England District OOHC accreditation – November 2017 (PDF version)

PSA members in the Hunter New England District are deeply concerned about the advice from the Office of the Children’s Guardian that their district has not met Out of Home Care (OOHC) accreditation status. The district has been given another six months to meet the standards.

Members advised the PSA they worked hard to ensure their district met the standards but encountered many difficulties due to a number of issues including:

  • lack of action to fill vacancies
  • unrelentingly high caseloads
  • lack of support and resources on the ground
  • training for ChildStory
  • continuing pressure to change systems and processes within FACS.

Caseworkers and all other staff involved in accreditation have been pushed to the limits. Indeed, far too many have sacrificed their own time trying to meet what are unmanageable work demands. It is crystal clear the district is under-resourced. Yet, not one word of recognition or appreciation has been offered by FACS. Staff have simply been told that they “will need to work harder”.

The PSA has written to FACS Secretary Michael Coutts-Trotter about this priority matter. We are calling on him to act immediately to fill vacant positions and provide additional and ongoing resources so that the district and its staff can meet and sustain the standards.

We have reiterated to the Secretary our members are hardworking, loyal and committed and have done everything that has been asked of them. We’ve also made clear that what is required is strong and effective leadership by FACS to support staff in what will be a challenging six months to meet the standards. Read the PSA’s letter HERE.

Your union is here to support you through this difficult time and will be visiting Community Services Centres in Hunter New England. In the meantime you may wish to contact:

Carmel McKeough – Industrial Officer
cmckeough@psa.asn.au

Robin Croon – Organiser
rcroon@psa.asn.au

Jose Vasquez – Organiser
jvasquez@psa.asn.au

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