Community services staff at Lismore have refused to meet Minister for Community Services Pru Goward today, walking off the job in protest at understaffing and a lack of resources, according to the Public Service Association of NSW.
Assistant Secretary Steve Turner said Lismore staff could not in good faith accept a visit from Minister Goward while she allowed staff shortages and ongoing job cuts to place vulnerable children at risk of harm across the state
“What we’re seeing across NSW is an outpouring of Community Services workers’ frustration at having one hand tied behind their backs when dealing with children at risk and their families,” Mr Turner said.
“Job cuts and a freeze on recruitment have choked the NSW Community Services Department.
“Staff find themselves overwhelmed by insufficient resources and a high administration burden that stops them from essential face-to-face work with vulnerable children and their families.
“The Minister promised vacancies would be filled by 2012, but last week she admitted the Coniston office was running at a 22% vacancy rate.
“Our members report a vacancy rate as high as 40% in some offices across the state – you can’t hope to get your job done when you’re understaffed to that extent.
“Three years after the Wood Report, which exposed the crippling red-tape and chronic under-resourcing of child protection in NSW, the situation has only become worse.
“The Minister must confront the reality that we can’t do child protection on the cheap, we need more staff and resources, not less.
“Caseworkers call on Minister Goward to urgently fill all vacancies across the state and put an immediate end to job cuts,” Mr Turner said.
Contact: Steve Turner 0418 675 564 / Jane Garcia 0434 489 533