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Tragic consequences for children left behind

DOC's protest against cuts to child protection services at Geoff Provest's office in Tweed Heads. Photo: John Gass / Tweed Daily News
DOC's protest against cuts to child protection services at Geoff Provest's office in Tweed Heads. Photo: John Gass / Tweed Daily News John Gass

DEPARTMENT of Community Services (DoCS) workers protested outside Tweed MP Geoff Provest's office on Monday, against funding cuts to child safety services.

About 10 Tweed-based family caseworkers attended the protest but none would speak to the Tweed Daily News for fear of losing their jobs.

A spokesperson said NSW Government cuts to funding meant only one in four "vulnerable" children could be seen by case workers.

She said DoCS caseworkers had been faced with a "Russian roulette" to choose which child would be seen and which wouldn't.

Statistics on the Government's Caseworker Dashboard show the number of children being reported at risk has risen by 21% in the past two years.

Public Services Association (PSA) assistant 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 a child protection caseworker.

"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," Mr Turner said.

"Tragically, we know that no contact can have tragic consequences that should be avoidable."

Mr Turner said the state's child protection services were chronically under-resourced.

The Government had a statutory responsibility to protect the state's vulnerable children.

All out of home care for children removed by DoCS will be privatised by 2017.

"Privatisation of these services is seeing a growing number of at-risk children miss being seen by a protection caseworker," Mr Turner said.

"The PSA calls upon (NSW) Premier (Mike) Baird to immediately address the real issues to prevent the tragedy of any child falling through the cracks."



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