Community Services caseworkers walk off the job

Unhappy caseworkers: Community service workers believe more people need to be hired to deal with the number of at-risk children in the community. Steve Turner (centre), said the government needs to protect the state's children. Picture: Gene Ramirez.

Unhappy caseworkers: Community service workers believe more people need to be hired to deal with the number of at-risk children in the community. Steve Turner (centre), said the government needs to protect the state's children. Picture: Gene Ramirez.

Caseworkers at Penrith and St Marys community services offices walked off the job today.

The were disgusted at the number of children not helped by the Community Services and said the government has been trying to blame the caseworkers instead of employing enough to do the job.

Caseworkers from offices all across the state went on strike at lunch time in protest.

Assistant general secretary of the Public Service Association, Steve Turner, said angry at a ‘‘caseworker dashboard’’ report found only one in four children reported at significant risk are being assess face-to-face by caseworkers.

He said the government should increasing staff levels to deal with the 55,000 cases that were raised in the last reporting period.

‘‘The government came out in the paper on Sunday and said that one of the reason there’s so many vacancies is because women keep going on maternity leave,’’ he said.

‘‘That’s just a slap in the face.’’

The Penrith office caseworkers had a video phone link to the St Marys office and they cheered each other on as they protested what they believe is inadequate funding.

They cheered as they heard other offices such as Wollongong were also voicing protest.

A caseworker who wanted to stay anonymous said she knew of a family that had been reported to the department more than once but hadn’t been visited.

‘‘The parents are dependent on ICE and heroin and there is domestic violence, but the report is raised and then just closed because there isn’t anyone to go out,’’ she said.

‘‘They have children aged two, five and nine.’’

Family and Community Services minister Gabrielle Upton said the government had halved the caseworker vacancy rate.

She also said they would continue to transition out-of-home care to the non-government sector because it is better placed to support vulnerable children.

Ms Upton said the government would invest over $500 million over four years to implement the Safe Home for Life reforms to child protection.

Mr Turner said it was important for western Sydney, where the population is booming but unemployment is higher, especially among youth to help create safe environments for children.

‘‘All those things combine to families under pressure and problems for children,’’ Mr Turner said.

‘‘It’s come to the end of the line where the government says they have a budget issue; you can’t say that about the protection of children.’’

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop