Child welfare services in state of crisis

By Dellaram Jamali
Updated November 2 2012 - 2:58pm, first published October 21 2010 - 2:41pm

A BALLARAT child welfare advocate has reiterated the continuing problem with the region's child protection services.Edith Cowan University head of social justice Professor Caroline Taylor said the issue with child protection services in the state was of ongoing concern.Professor Taylor said the research she had conducted in previous years had revealed that child protection services operated in an almost constant state of crisis."High case loads for staff and the issue of inexperienced staff who are often not well qualified are prone to become more easily overwhelmed by the stressful nature of the job," she said.Professor Taylor said the problem meant a lack of continuity for children and familiesShe said children who were in most need of intervention, help and support would pay the greatest price. "It means many children and families in crisis may not have the continuity of contact and case management because the worker leaves and a new person is eventually assigned," Professor Taylor said."Staff leaving also places further stress on staff who remain in the job as they take on additional case loads."In a statement, opposition spokesperson for community services Mary Wooldridge said the state government had failed to retain frontline child protection workers in 2009.Data released by the opposition indicated that 25 per cent of child protection workers in the Grampians region left the workforce last year ? the second highest in the state.The data also showed that 36 per cent of staff had left within six months of commencing their job."This information reveals the chaos and chronic problems in the child protection workforce," Ms Wooldridge said."Staff working in Victoria's child protection system are under immense pressure because of long-term mismanagement."As a result, thousands of neglected and abused children have not been allocated a case worker."But Community services Lisa Neville said these figures did not stack up.She said the Grampians region had a child protection workforce target of 64.1 full-time employees, with 59.4 currently employed.Ms Neville said 15 workers left their child protection roles last year, several of which were on fixed term contracts that were due to expire."There are more child protection workers employed across Victoria right now than at any other time," she said.

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