Minister disconnected from real Community Services helpline problems
PSA media release
Media reports that a police officer attempting to report a case of child abuse to Community Services was placed on hold for 12 hours by the Department’s Helpline come as no surprise said the Public Service Association (PSA).
The union has repeatedly raised concerns regarding work overload and staffing issues with the Department and met with FACS Secretary Michael Coutts-Trotter as recently as mid September 2016 about these matters.
Minister Brad Hazzard however appears to blame Helpline staff and is using his Government’s underresourcing of the service to justify radical plans to decentralise it.
“It’s unfortunate the Minister chooses to attack Community Services casework staff, when the real issue is and has always been funding,” said PSA Assistant General Secretary, Troy Wright.
“The 12 hour wait for the police officer was due to a technical issue created by one of the other models on trial.”
“The tragic fact is the need for child protection as a core statutory role of Government is growing rapidly but staffing and resourcing in Community Services has been cut to the point where it is becoming dangerously compromised.”
“There has been a 20% increase in call volume from last year but this has not been matched with an increase in Caseworker numbers.”
“The Helpline received almost one quarter of a million calls last year from police officers, teachers, nurses and community members reporting potential abuse or neglect.”
“The Helpline has been woefully understaffed on most weekends for the past 2 to 3 years since the rosters were changed.”
“Many calls result in multiple reports being generated and on weekends far more complex matters are received which take more time and resources to process.”
“The Government should stop creating doubt in the mind of the public regarding the essential service our Community Services Officers provide merely to pursue another agenda, and instead concentrate its efforts on resourcing and supporting the Helpline in response to increased demand,” said Troy Wright.