As Child Protection Week 2023 draws to a close, your Union wanted to give you a quick shout out for the incredible job you perform every day under the most trying of circumstances and show you some of the projects we are working on to improve it.
There is no doubt that your job is among the most arduous in terms of workload and decision-making in the whole of the public sector. The essential function you perform for the most vulnerable children in our community every day is not unnoticed by your Union, and we share your frustration that for twelve years it was however largely ignored by an LNP Government.
We are working closely with the newly-elected Minns Government and particularly your new Minister Kate Washington to achieve changes that not only introduce some tangible relief to the pressure you work under, but improve the quality and quantity of what the Department can deliver.
At the core of the problem is the recruitment and retention of caseworkers. Quite simply, while Government has ignored the problem for too long, your profession has been on a death spiral. Too few caseworkers means increasingly unmanageable workloads which leads to more departures and turnover, less appeal for recruitment and so it continues. We need to advocate and support strategies that will see more new workers want to come into your workplaces and fewer experienced heads want to depart.
To that end the Association has :
- Had your lead delegates meet with Minister to discuss the issue and propose strategies;
- In conjunction with its national counterparts, developed a National Workforce plan which delegates have taken to Federal Politicians to seek their support;
- Write to your Minister to ask her to support this Plan (CLICK HERE)
- On the 21 September, we will meet with your Secretary to argue for better strategies to both attract new caseworkers and retain the ones that exist; and,
- Only last week your Departmental Committee has urged the Associatin to pursue a reclassification process to make your salaries more competitive with your competitors and in doing so, hopefully put a stop to some of the staff turnover.
We are obviously also primarily concerned with unreasonable caseloads and the hazards they place on you individually. Next week we will remind you of some bans that are in place for your protection, but members should be assured this is front and centre in every discussion we hold with every manager at every level on every day. Quite simply, it is no longer good enough for the Department to be under-resourced, under-staffed, over-worked and under appreciated.
These are the early days of a new Government that is still very much coming to grips with both the scale of the problems in child protection that have not been addressed and the budgetary solutions required to fix them. Your Union will be pushing your interests central to those decisions because better supported, better paid and more experienced caseworkers are in everyone’s interest.
Further, we have been strongly advocating on your behalf the perils of outsourcing to a Government who has taken a very public stand against privatisation. In Sunday’s Telegraph the Association will be raising these issues to better alert the community that privatsiation isn’t just the sale of roads or power poles, but in the case of out-of-home care it is far more insidious with even worse results for those relying upon it.
Child Protection Week is never a celebration, but a time to take stock and both appreciate the role you perform and reflect on how it could be better. We have a long way to go to achieve the latter, but hopefully this is the beginning of change for you and the families you work with.