Reports today that Tasmania’s children at risk are “waiting” for child protection services are false and a fundamental misrepresentation of how the Child Safety Service operates.
Priority one are the most serious of cases which requires the child to be seen by Child Safety Services on the same day. There are currently no priority one cases yet to be allocated to a child safety worker across the entire state.
The notion of an “unallocated” case is purposefully misleading - any case that is yet to have a dedicated case worker, is actively managed by a senior practitioner and these children receive appropriate oversight by Child Safety Services.
In December last year, the new Strong Families Safe Kids, Advice and Referral Line was launched. It combines two services and is now a ‘single front door’ staffed by qualified government and community-based providers Mission Australia and Baptcare, who will link Tasmanians with a range of government and non-government services and programs.
Early data indicates that the new service is already seeing a reduction in overall notifications because it concentrates on providing more support to families at the beginning. By giving earlier support, children are less likely to be removed from their families and relationship breakdown can be prevented.
As Professor Maria Harries, Chair of the Redesign Reference Group, has stated “Fundamentally, we need to revise and redesign the services that provide for the wellbeing of children and families, and protect Tasmania’s children.” This is exactly what the Hodgman Liberal Government is committed to achieving.
We are investing an additional $24 million to support the redesign of the Child Safety System, employing more child safety officers and other frontline staff, and assisting children with very complex needs in out-of-home care.
This is on top of the $51.2 million of the redesign of child and safety services that we committed in our first term and the $16 million election commitments that were delivered in the 2018-19 Budget.
It is unacceptable that Labor and the Greens continue to offer nothing but criticism. In order to achieve real outcomes for our most vulnerable children, we should be putting aside political point scoring and working constructively to help families stay together where possible and ensure the safety and wellbeing of our kids.