Frontline Child Safety Staff

29 Dec 2008 3:29 PMJann Stuckey

The State Opposition is calling for more support and better training for frontline child safety staff in the wake of new reports of a mass exodus of staff.

LNP Shadow Child Safety Minister Jann Stuckey said she was not surprised the Department’s staff turnover rate was five times higher than the overall public service rate as she had obtained similar information through questioning in Parliament.

Mrs Stuckey said Opposition questioning in Parliament this year had also revealed only one in four staff (605 out of 2448 staff) in the Child Safety Department were actually working on the frontline.

“A key recommendation of the Crime and Misconduct Commission review into child protection was to cut the overall level of bureaucracy in the Department and focus on frontline staff and service delivery to deal with the massive number of cases,” she said.

“Clearly the Minister and her Government are ignoring this key point.
Heavy caseloads are over-burdening child safety officers and staff are leaving in droves.

“I acknowledge the need for a reasonable level of support staff, IT people and corporate managers, but when the ratio of bureaucrats to frontline staff is so high, questions need to be asked.”

Mrs Stuckey said the State Labor Government had known about the high staff turnover for years but had not acted swiftly to address the root causes of the problem.

“The Child Safety Minister only seems interested in spruiking about how much money she has in her budget, rather than how it’s being spent,” Mrs Stuckey said.

“The LNP has long maintained that this is not an issue about money. It’s about how taxpayers’ funds are managed to deliver the maximum number of staff on the ground dealing with abused children in our society.”

Mrs Stuckey said claims by academics that the high staff turnover “compromised service quality” was a polite way of saying vulnerable children were being placed at risk.

“Child safety is a highly sensitive area. Breaking the continuity between case worker and child can lead to mistakes being made,” she said.

“The Minister and the Bligh Labor Government have failed to accept that our frontline child protection workers need the best training and support.

“In contrast, the LNP is committed to overhauling training of new child safety officers and ensuring that frontline staff are well supported.”

Media contact: Jann Stuckey 0439 755 919
29 December 2008