Child protection: NSW spend per individual is the smallest in Australia - The Sydney Morning Herald - Public Service Association

Child protection: NSW spend per individual is the smallest in Australia – The Sydney Morning Herald

By Anna Patty

NSW is spending less on child protection per child than any other state, according to new figures.

The NSW opposition says the data suggests the government is more concerned with its budget bottom line than it is with protecting children at risk of harm.

The new figures from the Australian Productivity Commission show that in 2012-13, $13,539 in recurrent funding was being spent on child protection in NSW compared with $19,000 per child in Victoria, $38,158 in Queensland, $43,827 in Western Australia, $23,352 in South Australia, $20,389 in Tasmania, $16,568 in the ACT and $47,414 in the Northern Territory.

The national snapshot also shows NSW has the second-lowest expenditure per child in out-of-home care, at $44,016, after Tasmania at $39,331.

Deputy Opposition Leader Linda Burney, who is also spokeswoman on family and community services, said the Productivity Commission report on government services for 2014 confirms investment in child protection in NSW is slipping behind the national average and she urged the government to spend more on child protection.

”The minister is more interested in keeping the treasurer happy than in getting on with the job of protecting children,” Ms Burney said. ”NSW should be leading the way in protecting children.”

The national figures show that 58.8 per cent of children aged 0-17 had a current and approved case plan, the lowest rate in Australia and behind the national average of 75.1 per cent in 2012-13.

Ms Burney said out of home care accreditation systems required that case planning decisions and outcomes were recorded on each child or young person’s case plan and the records included the timeframe and responsibility for decisions to be implemented.

NSW was also spending $121.41 per night for out of home care, which was the second lowest amount in Australia behind Tasmania at $111.18 and behind the national average of $140.49 per night.

There were also 346 fewer children at risk of harm who accessed early intervention intensive family support services in 2012-13 compared with the previous year when there was a total of 8872.

Ms Burney said she was disturbed by an increase in the number of indigenous children in non-indigenous care arrangements. She said 1133 (18.3 per cent) of indigenous children were not placed in accordance with Aboriginal child placement principle – the highest rate since reporting began in 2005, when 333 children were placed.

A spokesman for Family and Community Services Minister Pru Goward said the Productivity Commission data was not comparable across the states and rejected any suggestion that NSW was spending relatively less per child than other jurisdictions.

”This government is focused on working towards better outcomes for vulnerable children,” he said. ”More than 80 per cent of indigenous children are placed with kin or other indigenous carers, and the proportion of children re-reported at risk within 12 months is coming down.”

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