Services left out in the cold
The State Government has been accused of undermining fundamental services in the Pilbara through the public sector staff freeze.
Tom Price is still without a resident child protection worker two months after the position was made vacant.
Labor Member for Mining and Pastoral Stephen Dawson raised concerns in February the position had not been filled.
The Department of Child Protection and Family Services told the Pilbara News the position would be filled by the end of February, but has confirmed that has not happened.
DCPFS director general Emma White said an experienced child protection worker had been providing temporary support until March 4.
“Another full-time child protection worker will relocate to Tom Price and commence within the next fortnight,” she said.
“This position will continue to be filled from internal resources until the State Government freeze has lifted.” She said the department was managing 357 open cases in the Pilbara district this month.
Mr Dawson said the freeze was causing distress to families in need of these services.
“The Government needs to take responsibility, they’re the ones who got us in this mess,” he said.
“This freeze is having a big effect on services in the region.
“My fear is it is going to create more problems in the short term and end up costing more in the long run.”
The freeze is understood to be affecting other public sector areas in the Pilbara, including mental health and claims of understaffing at the Karratha Magistrate’s Court.
A Department of the Attorney General spokesman denied this, stating a permanent staff member had started at the court this week and additional support was being organised to cover staff leave.
On Monday, Agriculture Minister Ken Baston raised fears the freeze had exposed the WA agriculture industry to disease outbreaks which had the potential to devastate the livestock industry.