Still No Consultation on Merger of Education and Child Safety

Pictured: Child Safety workers gather at Parliament House Lawns to protest chronic under resourcing and unsafe caseloads.

The CPSU is very concerned the government intends to proceed with its decision to merge responsibility for the education of children with its child protection responsibilities. The decision to abolish the Department of Communities Tasmania and transfer the Child Safety Service and Youth Justice to the Department of Education has been made without any consultation with any group of workers. 

The CPSU has written to Premier Rockliff asking him to defer the implementation for 12 months to allow a proper consultation with stakeholders to occur, but he seems fixed on his course. The only jurisdiction to try this radical concept, South Australia, quickly reversed it following a Royal Commission. 

Amongst the concerns we are hearing from members about the impact of this change is how school social workers will be perceived by children and families when they are part of the same organisation responsible for the child Safety service.  There are already significant issues that have arisen from the redesigned Advice and Referral Line (ARL) whereby school social workers, who are mandatory reporters, are expected to support children and families even after they have assessed the child as being at risk and requiring a CSS response.  School social workers are already spread far too thinly and their focus must remain on supporting children in their allocated schools instead of providing family support services. 

These are the sort of practical problems that must be addressed before any change in responsibilities happens. If this change happens without such issues being addressed there is a high risk of more children falling through the gaps, of the good things that are happening under the current arrangements being lost. 

The CPSU has advised the government that if it doesn’t comply with the Award obligation to consult on such a significant change then we will seek the intervention of the Tasmanian Industrial Commission to force them to consult. If you have any feedback, or wish to get more involved, get in touch with your CPSU Organiser Nellie Metcalfe at nmetcalfe@tas.cpsu.com.au.

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