Community services child protection workers in St Marys and Penrith have stopped work for an hour this afternoon over concerns about the impact of inadequate staffing, according to the Public Service Association of NSW.
Today’s action follows the walk off of Wollongong workers last week after a recent tragedy involving a child known to Community Services highlighted the severe risks of having inadequate staff numbers to protect children at risk.
PSA General Secretary John Cahill says the overwhelming majority of vulnerable children being brought to the attention of community services are not being seen by caseworkers.
“The NSW Government has placed workers at St Marys, Penrith and across the state in the impossible position where they simply do not have the staff or resources to follow up children assessed as being most at risk of serious harm,” Mr Cahill said today.
“Since coming to office, the State Government has cut more than 200 jobs from community services and only recently lifted a seven-month freeze on caseworker recruitment.
“Our members report vacancy rates of up to 40% at some offices across the state – more than double the vacancy rate identified as inadequate by the Auditor-General in 2010.
“Insufficient resources and a high vacancy rate means caseworkers cannot respond to many children assessed as being most at risk of harm and abuse.
“It’s simply not good enough.
“On becoming Minister for Family and Community Services, Ms Goward promised the government would ‘‘cut the red tape’’ so caseworkers could spend more time face-to-face with at-risk children and their families, rather than filling in paperwork.
“Sixteen months on, high vacancy rates and a lack of resources are still placing some of the most disadvantaged families and communities at risk.
“Minister Goward must urgently commit to filling all community services vacancies, and invest in the resources needed for getting more staff out meeting children and families – not child protection on the cheap,” Mr Cahill said.
Contact: Steve Turner 0418 675 564 / Jane Garcia 0434 489 533