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Increase in child abuse notifications

PSA Press Release
March 11, 2004

Increase in child abuse notifications requires urgent response

The disclosure of a near-doubling of suspected child abuse notifications in January and December requires an urgent response by the Government and by Child Youth and Family Services, PSA national secretary Richard Wagstaff said today.

“The PSA and our members working in Child Youth and Family are most concerned at the risk to vulnerable children caused by the significant increase in waiting lists. Some of these will be our most at-risk children.”

Richard Wagstaff said the PSA acknowledges that the rescue package the department received late last year went some way towards alleviating the pressure on social workers, but the surge in suspected abuse notifications means they are still struggling to cope under intolerable pressure. This leads to the unacceptable situation where professional social workers, in order to cope with increasing caseloads, find their standards are compromised by inadequate resources.

“The PSA is aware that as a result of the injection of funds last year, Child Youth and Family is working on new long term strategies, systems, and processes to help turn around the difficulties of the past. It is evident, however, that more needs to be urgently done in the short term to assist our social workers in carrying out what is a most difficult and sensitive job.

“We believe an immediate injection of social workers and other resources are required to deal with this problem. We are aware that an approximate 900 applicants responded to last year’s recruitment campaign. Any bottlenecks in the Call Centre could be resolved quickly by directing additional capacity there, and we believe additional administration support for social workers would go a long way towards alleviating the pressure.”

Richard Wagstaff said the PSA believed that Child Youth and Family could explore other short term measures such as monitoring arrangements to ensure those on the waiting lists are not coming to further harm.

“We are of the firm belief that the current level of Government funding to Child Youth and Family is vastly exceeded by the demands being placed on the department and ultimately our members.”

[ends]

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