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Government NSW, Youth

NSW child protection crisis means Minns Government must de-privatise broken system

PSA 2 mins read

With shocking new statistics showing that tens of thousands of at-risk children in NSW are not being seen by state government authorities, the Public Service Association is calling on the Minns Government to take responsibility and de-privatise the broken system. 

Media reports today show 76 per cent of young people suspected of being at risk of physical or sexual abuse are not being seen in person. 

The new data shows NSW’s caseworker vacancy rate spiked by five percentage points to 12 per cent between July and September last year, with large numbers of child protection workers claiming workers’ compensation due to stress and burnout. Hundreds of workers’ have recently opened compensation claims. 

PSA General Secretary Stewart Little said his union has been in  dialogue with Child Protection Minister Kate Washington who now needs to act fast. 

“Vulnerable kids aren’t slipping through the cracks anymore, they’re just tumbling through gaping holes. We need urgent and fundamental reform,”  Mr Little said. 

“Our members in child protection are telling us they’ve never seen the system in worse shape. They are stressed out of their minds and leaving in mass numbers.

“Private providers pick and choose which kids they take on, and often refuse to accept responsibility for the most troubled children. 
"Hundreds of kids are being left to live in scrappy motels for months, barely supervised by untrained staff. The privatised foster system has been left to wither and die. The terrible inefficiencies are costing NSW taxpayers more than we ever paid for the public system. In at least one case, an ‘Alternative Care Arrangement’ cost NSW around $3 million to provide support to one child in need.

“It’s not Kate Washington's fault the system is broken, but it’s her responsibility to clean it up. To the Minister’s  credit, she acknowledged that costly and inefficient privatised child protection services in NSW might have to be placed back into public hands. We now need the government to act.
“The government has a moral responsibility to care for the most vulnerable kids, and it is failing at the moment. The way to take responsibility is to stop outsourcing to NGOs, take control, and start getting qualified caseworkers back into the system. 
"The privatisation of child protection service in New South Wales was a grotesque experiment and it's been a grotesque failure,”  Mr Little said.
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