ChildStory: Report to members on PSA meeting with FACS Secretary

Feb 19, 2018

ChildStory – Report to members on PSA meeting with FACS Secretary – February 2018 (PDF version)

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PSA Officials and Community Services delegates met with FACS Secretary Michael Coutts-Trotter on 14 February 2018.

The PSA again detailed the enormous difficulties Community Services staff are experiencing on a daily basis as a result of the Executive’s inconceivable decision to go live last November with ChildStory, a system that was clearly not ready. Unfortunately and frustratingly, the FACS Executive is still resistant to acknowledge the seriousness of the problems. The PSA will not back off until there is full acknowledgement of the problems and this mess is fixed.

We particularly emphasised that ChildStory has done nothing to increase the safety of children in NSW or free up child protection workers. On the contrary, ChildStory is contributing to a crisis in child protection because of multiple issues including:

  • Design failures that are impacting on casework practice;
  • Dramatically increasing the administrative workload for caseworkers;
  • Failed data migration including innumerable missing records, corrupted assessment records (SAS2s); “substantiated” reports now appearing as “unsubstantiated” (J&Ds) and vice versa (too many more examples to list);
  • Failure to address the needs of units such as the Information and Exchange, Interstate Liaison, Brighter Futures Assessment Unit, CFDUs, CWUs and Adolescent Teams.

We tabled the results of the recent PSA’s member survey conducted on ChildStory. At short notice 636 members completed our survey and key findings include:

  • 94.63 per cent of respondents did not think ChildStory was user friendly/intuitive;
  • 77.06 per cent of respondents are spending significantly more time at their computers;
  • 97.32 per cent of respondents did not think the ChildStory training provided by FACS enable them to do their work;
  • 96.85 per cent of respondents did not think they had enough on site support;
  • 76.54 per cent of respondents reported ChildStory had a negative impact on their physical and/or mental health; and
  • 96.36 per cent of respondents believed they could not do their work without having access to KIDS.

Despite all of the evidence presented by the PSA, the Secretary flat out denied Child Story is a “catastrophe”.

He did however state that he “owns” the decision to go live in November 2017 and “it was a judgement call”. Ultimately, the decision to go live sits with Minister Goward.

We stressed that the system has to be redesigned as a priority as well as the need to re-migrate records from KIDS. In response, the Secretary advised of the following actions proposed by FACS:

  • A plan to remediate ChildStory problems which will be shared with the PSA;
  • Significant resources will be allocated to support this plan;
  • Increased support and training across Community Services;
  • A Health and Safety risk assessment will be undertaken (as required under WHS legislation);
  • KIDS will not be turned off until there is complete confidence in ChildStory; and
  • Acknowledgment that ChildStory is adversely impacting on productivity

We were categorically assured resources to fix ChildStory are from re-prioritising the ICT budget and that funds will not be diverted from the Child Protection budget.

Assistant General Secretary Troy Wright advised the Secretary that our support for this plan is conditional on data migration problems and design flaws being fixed as a priority so that all child protection workers (such as Caseworkers, MCWs, Admin Support) can actually do their work.

The PSA will not be attending meetings for the sake of it unless the plan is a comprehensive response to address the fundamental problems with ChildStory.

The PSA raised the serious concern that the same pressures on frontline worker to achieve productivity targets needs to be addressed.  On the back of the ChildStory debacle, frontline staff and district can not be expected to perform as if it was business as usual. The Secretary agreed. We stressed that he needs to communicate this message directly to all staff.

The PSA also raised the issue of staff who are being performance managed as a consequence of not being able to do the same level of work since the implementation of ChildStory. The PSA stated this should cease immediately. The Secretary stated some staff need to be performance managed and he would not be reversing his position. However, he is prepared to look at matters on a case-by-case basis. Members who believe they are being unfairly performance managed because of or as a result of ChildStory should initially contact the Member Support Centre on 1300 772 679 and their matter will be referred to an industrial officer.

The HorrorStory continues! Another CSC walks out

Feb 14, 2018

The HorrorStory continues – Another CSC walks out – February 2018 (PDF version)

PSA members at St George CSC walked off the job to protest the poor implementation of ChildStory, and the danger it poses to staff, children and their families.

Our members are calling for the current issues that have been identified to be fixed and to delay the roll out of phase 2 until this is done.

FACS senior management, the Minister and the media are starting to pay attention. Now is the time to get involved, get active and keep up the momentum.

Talk to your workplace delegate or contact the PSA at FACSOrganising@psa.asn.au to bring the action to your workplace.

United we bargain, divided we beg.

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St George CSC Workplace Group Annual General Meeting

Feb 14, 2018

St George CSC Workplace Group Annual General Meeting – February 2018 (PDF version)

Official notice is hereby given for the Annual General Meeting for the St George CSC Workplace Group (WPG), to be held on Tuesday 20 March 2018, at St George CSC.

The location will be announced closer to the date pending your office relocation.

All positions are up for election, please see attached form HERE.

To nominate yourself to be a delegate complete the attached nomination form and send to your PSA organiser Mary Jo Costache at mcostache@psa.asn.au.

Elected delegates will be provided with training and support from PSA staff. Elected delegates also have additional protection under the Award.

In accordance with the PSA Rules a WPG committee structure has the below positions but is not limited to;

  • Workplace Delegate
  • Chairperson
  • Vice Chairperson
  • Secretary
  • Assistant Secretary
  • Women’s Contact

Unity is strength. It is essential we are united to continue fighting for fairer outcomes for yourselves and the children and families you protect.

If you have any questions please contact Mary Jo at mcostache@psa.asn.au or 1300 772 679.

Community Services Albury members

Feb 9, 2018

PSA members at Community Services Albury show their anger at the new Childstory system which is failing clients and communities.

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ChildStory update – Department starting to listen to the PSA

Feb 8, 2018

ChildStory update – Department starting to listen to the PSA – February 2018 (PDF version)

The ChildStory debacle received extensive coverage in the weekend media – see HERE.

A front page headline of “Wiped Out” followed by more reports on pages 6-7 in The Sunday Telegraph led to a communication to staff from FACS Secretary Michael Coutts-Trotter on 5 February 2018. This is the first time the PSA has seen an email from a Department head that seeks to downplay serious and complex matters by using expressions like “holy moly” and “hunky dory”.

Child protection is serious business and such expressions trivialise the very real problems you are experiencing on a daily basis. The Secretary then went on to state we were either wrong or exaggerating the problems and things were being fixed in any case.

You can read the Secretary’s email HERE.

The PSA met with Lisa Alonso Love and Greg Wells from the ChildStory team on 5 February 2017. Also in attendance were Catherine Carvolth and Vicki Wong from Employee Relations, Safety and Wellbeing.

We stated these meetings cannot be effective without the involvement of the Secretary and requested to meet with him. We can advise this request was accommodated within 24 hours and the PSA is meeting with the Secretary on
14 February 2018. We’re hopeful that the last few months of executive group think, organisational defensiveness and attacks on the PSA are behind us and there is a plan to fix ChildStory.

We will be advising the Secretary that the problems and defects with ChildStory are so severe that the Department has no option but to abandon the proposed roll-out of phase 2 (March 2018) until all necessary remedial action is taken during phase 1.

Michael Coutts-Trotter said that “the buck stopped with him” and we intend to hold him accountable for his mismanagement of ChildStory.

Other actions agreed to by the Department at the meeting with the ChildStory Team are HERE.

This group will meet monthly and we will also be holding them to account to deliver on agreed actions and reporting back to members. Members can be assured that if we see a need to escalate issues we will not wait for another month and will raise directly with the Secretary.

The PSA thanks members who have advised us on a daily basis about the problems they with ChildStory that are adding to caseworkers’ already heavy workloads and exposing children and young people to risk.

We will continue to fight for a system that is fit for purpose so you have a computer system which allows you to do your work as opposed to being a hindrance, which ChildStory has proven to be.

If you or your colleagues have not yet had your say through completing the PSA survey on ChildStory, please do HERE. It is important and will only take two minutes.

ChildStory – Sunday Telegraph 4 February 2018

Feb 8, 2018

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