Child pro­tec­tion roles re­main un­filled

Kalgoorlie Miner - - NEWS - Clare Kenyon

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.

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