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WHO WILL PROTECT OUR VULNERABLE CHILDREN?
2014 was a terrible year for Australia’s most vulnerable citizens – our children.
In February, 11 year old Luke Batty was killed by his father at a cricket ground in Victoria, in April Charles Mihayo killed his two daughters in Melbourne, in November a mother was charged with attempted murder after dumping her baby in a drain in suburban Sydney and just a few weeks ago eight children were murdered in Cairns. These we just a few of the tragic stories from 2014 and in the background throughout the year has been reports of the historic failings of our institutions to deal with instances of child sex abuse being uncovered by the Royal Commission.
Despite all the tragic stories the Tasmanian government has still failed to adequately resource the child protection service in our state.
A recent review of staffing numbers in child protection show that in the southern region almost 20% of child protection worker positions are vacant. This has led to the reestablishment of unallocated lists in both Intake and Response.
“The pressure is on the whole child protection system like never before as a result of budget cuts to Health, Education and Police,” CPSU General Secretary Tom Lynch said.
“There are simply too few staff employed to ensure all the children reported at risk have their cases quickly and comprehensively reviewed and this means some are being left in unsafe situations,” Mr Lynch said.
“Cuts to social worker resources in schools and the reduction in teacher assistants means there are fewer experienced staff with time available to spot children in need before they are brought to the attention of child protection. This means the cases being reported are more complex and require more time to address.”
In July the Minister for Human Services Jacquie Petrusma again highlighted the problems in the system declaring the Child Protection 2012-13 report card for the state as ‘damning’ and reiterated the Liberal election promise to implement a major cultural shift in child protection.
“The Minister has had almost a year to implement her ‘cultural shift’ but at the coal face it seems things are getting worse not better. Budget cuts have added to the woes of a system groaning under sheer workload,” Mr Lynch said. “Tasmania’s vulnerable children don’t need platitudes from the Minister they need action.”