Child protection roles remain unfilled
The State Government is yet to find enough child protection workers for the Goldfields, despite funding being allocated in the 2013-14 budget.
Answering questions from shadow minister Stephen Dawson in Parliamen, child protection minster Helen Morton said 38 of the 54 positions allocated in the Budget had been filled, but the Goldfields region, along with West and East Kimberley, Murchison and the South West were still understaffed. Residents in Laverton have felt the effects of staffing issues for over three years since an investigation resulted in 14 people charged with 34 child-abuse related matters and 68 children referred to other agencies for support.
Previously workers have driven out from Kalgoorlie-Boulder to provide assistance in the remote areas.
Shadow child protection minister Stephen Dawson said it was a real concern that the positions had not been filled, months after extra resources were promised for Gold- fields-Esperance communities.
“The Government obviously recognised the pressing need for more child protection workers in the system and announced funding in this year’s Budget.
“Child protection workers constantly tell me they are overworked — that they are dealing with growing numbers of children with more complex needs and behaviours.
“Minister Morton must ensure her department are filling these frontline positions as a matter of priority.
“It is simply not good enough having these positions unfilled when there’s a crying need for more workers in the child protection system.”
Ms Morton was overseas at the time of Kalgoorlie Miner’s inquiries and directed questions to the Department for Child Protection and Family Support.
The DCPFS confirmed five case worker positions were still vacant in the Goldfields but a recruitment drive had just taken place in country districts.
DCPFS director general Emma White said it was expected the positions would be filled in the New Year.
“The District has interim measures in place to ensure that coverage is provided to those offices that have vacancies with staff travelling between offices as required.
“In addition, the department has a country reliving team based in Perth that can be deployed to the region to provide additional support as required.”
Ms White said vacancies levels were not static and would fluctuate due to turnover and transfers.