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Better pay and support for Child, Youth and Family

10 October 2001 Media Statement

Better pay and support for Child, Youth and Family social workers

Increased pay rates and better professional support for social workers will assist Child, Youth and Family to recruit and retain the best social workers, Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey told Parliament this afternoon.

A $29 million professionalisation package for CYF was provided in the Budget as a key response to Mick Brown’s review of the Department which identified severe staff recruitment and retention problems. Steve Maharey said new employment agreements, covering approximately 1,700 staff, have now been negotiated with the PSA and have been overwhelmingly ratified by staff. In addition, new professional supervisory staff have been appointed and additional training has been introduced for new staff.

He said the package demonstrates the Government’s commitment to make the Department an attractive environment to work in for the country’s leading social work practitioners.

“Child, Youth and Family social workers deal with children and families in crisis which is why it is essential that it has the professionalism and support that it requires.

“The Government accepted Mick Brown’s advice that recruitment and retention problems were affecting the Department’s ability to provide the best quality services; we have acted to address these issues.

“Central to the professionalisation package are new improved pay rates for staff. Foundations for the new pay rates and employment contracts were laid during a collaborative remuneration project carried out by CYF and the PSA. The final remuneration result is the result of four months work between the department, unions and staff.

“However increasing pay isn’t the only measure CYF is taking to recruit and hold on to staff. Other measures taken include:

- the appointment of 38 new Practice Managers to promote and manage social work practice within Child Youth and Family;

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- the appointment of a further 75 Senior Practitioners (bringing the national total to 90) to provide on-the-job guidance and practice support and mentoring for Social Workers; and,

- a six week training programme for newly recruited social work staff, to teach them the basics of statutory social work.

“These initiatives are specifically designed to assist Child Youth and Family social workers to better understand the requirements of statutory social work, to provide them with professional practice support, and thereby assist them to achieve an even higher standard of social work practice,” says Steve Maharey.

ENDS

Notes on the new employment contracts

- under the new pay scales the minimum salary for an unqualified social worker goes from $26,000 to $30,000 a year, while the minimum for a qualified social worker rises from $30,000 to $35,000. The top social work pay rate moves to $50,000 an increase of 16 percent.

- the average increase for social workers is around $3,000 a year or 7.7%. Increases will be backdated to 1 July 2001. The majority of staff can expect to get most of this paid out on 24 October, with some staff having their increases paid in the following pay of 7 November.

- the new agreements cover approximately 1,700 staff. A system, primarily based on competence, has been established to allow social workers to progress up the pay scale.


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