Meeting with Gareth Ward MP, Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services
Your delegates Brendan McMenamin and Allison Corrigan and PSA General Secretary, Stewart Little, met with Minister Ward on Tuesday, 29 October 2019. The two main issues discussed were:
The rates of psychological injury sustained by child protection workers are worse than NSW Police and NSW Ambulance. The rates are 10 times higher than the average for NSW public servants. We stated this is unacceptable and needs to be addressed as a matter of priority.
While the Department has developed a ‘roadmap’, there have not been any noticeable differences for child protection workers. We stated that there were plenty of strategies and planning but nothing new and tangible to protect you from psychological injuries. We advocated very strongly that the Department needed to urgently implement systems to manage workload and excessive hours, as well provide holistic support for managers and staff while undertaking the difficult, important and essential work you do.
The Minister agreed the mental health of staff in child protection was most important. Your delegates and the PSA will keep pushing these issues to ensure that staff receive the support they need to prevent and manage workplace injuries.
We advised the Minister of the results from our most recent PSA Survey.
See the survey results HERE.
Read the open-ended question responses HERE.
We highlighted to the Minister that for example:
- 86% of respondents do not think ChildStory is ‘user friendly and intuitive’
- 94% encounter problems with ChildStory
- 36% of members no longer log issues with ChildStory because 53% have lots confidence that the issues would be resolved
- 70% of members spend more than three hours’ additional time as a result of ChildStory compared to KIDS
- 91% of respondents do NOT believe they could work effectively on ChildStory without access to KIDS
- 88% believe that ChildStory causes them to spend more time on a computer than with families
- 90% do NOT believe the Department should switch off KIDS
- 74% of members believe ChildStory has placed children at risk
- 68% of members believe ChildStory has had a negative impact on their physical and mental health
The Minister confirmed he holds the view that KIDS should be turned off. PSA representatives strongly advocated that Child Protection Workers should be allowed access to the tools, including KIDS read-only, to help them to their work. We believe that any move to de-activate KIDS at this time would make your work even more difficult and place children at risk. Your responses in the survey strongly support this view.
The PSA maintained that ChildStory is hindering members from seeing more children. The Minister responded by saying that ChildStory is here to stay and some caseworkers were finding it harder to adjust to the new system. We fiercely defended our members by reinforcing the passionate dedication, altruistic motivation and excellence our child protection members bring to their work with children.
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