ABOUT THE CAMPAIGN
Child protection workers continue to face considerable challenges due to poor decisions made by the government. Workloads are increasing, positions have been abolished and the Department faces cuts of tens of millions of dollars over the next few years.
The Every Child Counts campaign will bring members together across the Department of Child Protection and Family Support (DCPFS) to ensure they all feel safe at work, have resources they need to do their jobs well, and have fair and reasonable workloads. DCPFS and the members of the community that rely on this valuable service deserve a well-funded, well-resourced service that meets their needs. The ultimate responsibility for addressing these issues is with Minister, Andrea Mitchell.
Recently, we wrote to Child Protection Minister Andrea Mitchell, requesting a meeting to discuss the unstainable workload within the Department for Child Protection and Family Support,
On Monday 12 December, CPSU/CSA and Save Our Services left 655 heartfelt messages for Andrea Mitchell, Treasurer Mike Nahan and Premier Colin Barnett — to have a heart and save WA's child protection services.
HOW DID WE GET HERE?
In the late 90's CPSU/CSA members began campaigning against excessive workloads. They took their fight to the steps of Parliament, rallied across the State and locked themselves into District Offices. It was a long fight, but after 10 long years the WAIRC issued Orders legitimising the Workload Management Tool (WMT).
The Tool was designed to enable staff to keep track of their caseload and maintain a reasonable maximum. The Orders allowed for:
Due to under-resourcing of the Department, child protection workers now face a situtation where, every month, they must move cases from their own caseload to the monitored list. This is a heartbreaking choice for professional carers - vulnerable children on the monitored list receive no active case worker support as there is no budget to care for them.
Following the tragic murder of a newborn infant in February 2014 by the infant's troubled teenager father, delegates and representativces from the CPSU/CSA were called upon to give evidence at a parliamentary enquiry. The final report released following the enquiry found the DCPFS needed to reconsider how it managed informed decisions about dangerous cases, such as the one presented by the father, a transient teenager from Bunbury. The enquiry found systemic issues, such as inadequate resource and excessive workloads, may have contributed to the outcome of the Bunbury case, although a direct link was not found.
The devastation that funding cuts, hiring freezes and redundancies have taken on the Department for Child Protection and Family Support since the Barnett Government took office has been extreme. As funding and staffing levels have plummeted the number of children coming into care has steadily risen
The environment of scarce resourcing, high workload and burnout was about to become worse. The 2016/17 state budget prepared by Treasurer Mike Nahan, made a number of heartless cuts to the capabilities of DCPFS, including the following:
Outrage quickly spread across WA about the impact of $40,876 million cut over three years and the consequences of cutting Responsible Parenting Services. The RPS cut meant 63 FTE (full-time equivalent) positions would be lost across the state, endangering provisions of early intervention programs. These programs prevent social problems and stop children being taken into care by addressing the problems through a proactive strategy. You can read more about the work of RPS here. Worse still, these cuts meant regional child protection offices, tasked with servicing vast areas of Western Australia, would see major staff losses, such as the Murchison district office moving from 14 staff going down to just four.
EVERY CHILD COUNTS
In the lead up to the 2016 mid-year economic review and the 2017 state election, we are campaigning to enure our valuable Child Protection and Family Support services are defended and the cuts are reversed. During National Child Protection Week (4th - 10th September) we highlighted attention to the invaluable work that Child Protection and Family Support Members do every day.
At the beginning of the week, we joined a coalition of 14 leading child protection agencies in releasing an open letter, calling on both sides of politics to reverse the cuts. Read the full letter here. On Thursday 8th September, DCPFS delegates marched on parliament to table a petition of just under 1,000 West Australians opposing the heartless funding cuts hampering proper care. We draped parliament house with a chain of 600 hearts - each heart representing a vulnerable West Australian child let down by the current government. Shadow Minister for Child Protection and Family Support (CPFS), the Hon Stephen Dawson MLC hosted a morning tea for delegates to coincide with this important week. This event was attended by parliament house from across the metropolitan area who heard directly about what was occuring in their local communities.
National Child Protection Week was just the start of our campaign. We will continue to take action to ensure:
JOIN THE CAMPAIGN
Are you are CPSU/CSA Member or a member of the community who is a passionate advocate for the work of West Australian child protection workers? Get involved in the Every Child Counts Campaign.
Issue 3 - Committee Hearing announced