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.