Child Safety staff deserve respect.

Posted on November 30, 2018

Child Safety staff deserve respect for the challenging role they undertake in working with at-risk children and families, and not to be scapegoated for a system under pressure.

Branch Secretary Alex Scott said, "Child Safety workers go above and beyond to look after the state’s most vulnerable children and it is a real tragedy that the need keeps on growing. Any blame for under-resourcing their ability to work with children and families should be directed at those who make decisions about funding for the Department, not the frontline and frontline support staff who are working long, frequently unpaid, hours in difficult circumstances."

"The comments attributed to the Queensland Police Union are irresponsible and untrue. These workers are not 'slack' – that is an outrageous statement. They are doing everything they can in a very challenging environment. Similarly, Ros Bates’s comments about the Department being 'under-skilled’ are dangerous and insulting."

"Together members in Child Safety, Youth & Women are currently bargaining for their collective agreement, and reducing workloads is the biggest improvement our members in Child Safety want addressed. Child Safety workers know that they need more resources, they see the need first-hand."

"Investment in early intervention is important, but the Department needs to resource workers to be able to deal with a tertiary system that is already overloaded. Our members are tired of being the scapegoat for a system that is fundamentally under-resourced."

While the Department claims that caseloads have reduced in the past two years, the workload associated with cases has increased due to complexity, intensity and more recent child protection reforms. Workers in Child Safety Service Centres deserve respect for the challenging work that they undertake and the Department must properly resource these workers so they can continue to protect and work with children, young people and families.

With further stresses in the Youth Justice system, including significant numbers of young people detained in watch-houses due to capacity issues in Detention Centres, the need to fundamentally address the short-falls in funding for the Department has never been more urgent.

"Protecting children is everybody’s business, and these pressures have seen other agencies, including the Queensland Police Service, Queensland Health, the Department of Education and non-governmental organisations, impacted as well. We urge the state government to look at its investment in Child Safety, Youth & Women holistically and ensure that children and families are kept safe and well by the community."

 Through collective bargaining with the government right now, Together members are seeking to have the recommendations from a number of reviews into the child protection system fully implemented in a practical sense –  these include reducing caseloads, increasing frontline support staff and addressing recruitment and retention issues. Together members have taken industrial action from Cape York to Toowoomba and everywhere in between to highlight to the Department how strongly they feel about the need to address systemic under-resourcing of the system. To date, members have rejected the Department’s proposal regarding workload management as it is not good enough.

 Together does not comment on any individual Child Safety cases.

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