Thursday, June 5, 2008

CHILD PROTECTION CRISIS IN NORTH WEST

Unallocated List Doubles After Restructure
Peg Putt MP
Thursday, 5th June 2008
For Comment: State Parliamentary Offices of the Tasmanian Greens, (03) 6233 8300
The Tasmanian Greens today are calling for urgent action because recent changes to child protection services on the north west coast have seen a dramatic rise in the numbers of children on the unallocated list in the past month, now at around 90 children reported as likely to be suffering abuse or neglect who have not been investigated.
Greens Opposition Leader Peg Putt MP said that as of 21st April workers in the child protection response teams responsible for investigating child abuse and neglect allegations have been cut from thirteen to six, as two teams were reduced to one based in Burnie, and the Devonport team disbanded.
Ms Putt believes that two children have suffered a further assault whilst awaiting investigation – one being in relation to a family violence incident known to police.
The Greens are also concerned that the child protection workers are now expected to work in the field alone, rather than with another staff member, raising issues of personal safety for staff working in isolated areas without mobile phone coverage and sometimes entering volatile situations.
“The restructure of child protection services in the north west is having an adverse impact as the unallocated list has risen dramatically from ten to around 90 in the last month, which is unacceptable and requires an urgent remedy,’ Ms Putt said.
“Until the 21st April there were two teams, one in Devonport and one in Burnie, to carry out the legal obligation to investigate allegations of child abuse and neglect, but their numbers were halved when the team was consolidated in Burnie resulting in this blowout in the unallocated list despite bureaucratic blather about greater efficiencies.”
“To hear that two children have been re-assaulted whilst awaiting assessment is very upsetting.”
“The Greens also are worried that these child protection workers have now also been told to go alone into isolated areas without mobile phone coverage to deal with touchy situations, as this raises concerns about their personal safety.”
“What will Minister Giddings do to deal with this disastrous situation, having last week claimed that things were on the up and up in child protection? The children at risk in the north west deserve better,” Ms Putt concluded.