Angry child protection workers in Ballina and Lismore have called on premier Mike Baird to properly resource the sector following a report that workers were seeing only one in four children at risk of serious harm.
The workers were also angry that the government blamed female workers taking maternity leave for the staffing shortage crippling the sector.
The Public Service Association union, which represents the workers, called a snap strike last week, with workers walking off the job for an hour to highlight their anger at the government.
PSA assistant general secretary Steve Turner said nearly 55,000 children reported as being at risk of ‘significant’ harm failed to receive a face-to-face response from caseworkers.
Mr Turner said the government’s own Caseworker Dashboard figures showed the number of children being reported at risk has risen by 21 per cent in the past two years.
‘The state’s child protection services are chronically under resourced and rather than moving decisively to fix the situation, the government – which has a statutory responsibility to protect the state’s vulnerable children – have stooped to blaming female workers who wish to spend time with their new families,’ Mr Turner said.
‘The fact is that privatisation of these services is seeing a growing number of at-risk children miss being seen by a protection caseworker.
‘Tragically, we know that no contact can have tragic consequences that should be avoidable.
‘The fact is despite the best efforts of overwhelmed staff, inadequate resources and understaffing is preventing the undertaking of essential face-to-face work with vulnerable children and their families.
‘The PSA calls upon premier Baird to immediately address the real issues to prevent the tragedy of any child falling through what are increasingly wide cracks.’
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