Documents leaked to the Mercury newspaper show the crisis in our Child Safety system is worsening with hundreds of kids being left without the support they need.
The documents reveal staff absences and vacancies in the North West were at 70% and were 42% in the North and 37% in the South. The documents show there are ‘103 Child Safety Assessments which cannot be allocated, and 229 children under custody and or guardianship without an allocated Child Safety Officer’.
Let’s be really clear – responsibility for this crisis sits firmly with Premier Rockliff and not with the remaining CYF staff who are working their butts off to cover absences and protect vulnerable kids.
The CPSU also acknowledges the hard work of managers and management of CYF. At a recent Industrial Consultative Committee meeting they detailed the efforts they are undertaking to try to fill vacancies and ensure teams have the resources they need. They are doing all they can with the tools they have been provided, they just need better tools.
It’s said the definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome and that’s where we are at with recruitment in child safety. We advertise the same jobs, with the same conditions and the same salary horizon over and over again and expect a heap of talented, committed people will suddenly apply. Well they won’t.
Just like he had to do with nurses in our hospitals, Premier Rockliff needs to meet with the CPSU and agree a recruitment and retention package for child safety.
- We need to shore up our existing workforce by recognising and rewarding their skills and commitment. Progressing their classifications, providing them access to flexible work and more leave so they can recover, and ensuring they have the supports they need.
- We need a whole lot of new reasons for people to take jobs in Child Safety. Higher entry salary and higher salary horizon to recognise the difficultly of the work. A sign on payment to help transition to the new role. Better support and professional leaning opportunities.
- We need to make child safety workplaces safe. Everyone should have access to trauma-specialised critical incident support, not just EAP and if the employer can provide that support, then they should pay for treatment through private providers. Critical incidents should be debriefed within 48 hours – every time.
It shouldn’t be acceptable to Premier Rockliff that our child safety system is in crisis and kids are falling through the gaps. All his words about a government with heart and his commitment to responding to child abuse mean nothing if he fails to act right now and address this crisis.
What is the point of a Commission of Inquiry into the government’s past responses to child abuse when it does nothing to deal with the risks children are facing today and will continue to face until the Premier acts?