An independent reviewer is investigating the workplace culture among child protection staff in Ballarat.
The Courier has seen details of a "comprehensive" review of the environment experienced by Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) employees in the city.
The probe is targeted to address issues - including concerns about workload and the handling of complaints - faced by child protection staff in the Central Highlands area.
An internal document cites "pressures and challenges" facing employees.
The review would help ensure both staff and the leadership team feel "safe and supported" at work, it says.
The independent reviewer has been named as Julius Roe, The Courier understands.
It is believed that Mr Roe was mutually agreed to undertake the job by authorities at both the DHHS and the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU).
The latest [review] in the Central Highlands area is part of our work to ensure child protection practitioners feel supportedDHHS spokesperson
Mr Roe has previously acted as the Fair Work Commissioner and as the national president of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union. He has worked on a variety of high level mediation matters.
Staff are understood to be discussing a wide range of issues in confidence with Mr Roe. These range from concerns about workload, the management of complaints, workplace culture and morale, to leadership and management approaches.
The Courier also understands there is at least one bullying allegation against a senior member of staff.
While participation in the review is thought to be voluntary, all staff are being encouraged to take part.
At least two cases involving child protection staff in the region have made the headlines in the past decade.
In 2016, a coroner criticised child protection services after a vulnerable 16 year-old took his own life, while in 2011 an inquest was told that protocols were not followed with a toddler who later died from injuries suffered at her father's house.
A spokesperson for the CPSU said they were unable to comment on the review.
A DHHS spokesperson said the Central Highlands review was the latest in a number of reviews into workplace culture, and was to "ensure child protection practitioners feel supported through better investments in workplace wellbeing [and] access to effective training."
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