News, media releases

Children remain at risk as child safety worker numbers fall short

Vulnerable children remain at risk as the Rockliff-Ferguson Government continues to under-resource child safety services across Tasmania.

Shockingly, in budget estimates this morning, the Minister for Children Roger Jaensch did not know how many child safety workers are currently working around the state.

Mr Jaensch was only able to say 20.4 full-time equivalent frontline positions are vacant.

The latest official data from the government showed Tasmanian children in “active transition” – those reported a being at risk but not allocated to the care of a child safety officer – had climbed above 60, an indication of significant under-resourcing and staff shortages.

Additionally, both the Minister today and the Premier yesterday, refused to delay their plan to move current child safety responsibilities into the Department of Education, despite the disastrous experience in South Australia after similar changes – resulting in a Royal Commission specifically recommending the establishment of a department with child safety as its primary focus.

With the Premier and Minister stating repeatedly their commitment to implementing the recommendations of the current Commission of Inquiry, Tasmanians can only assume that if recommended, this change will be wound back – yet another costly distraction taking staff away from their core business of keeping children safe.

With so many questions needing answers, I again urge the Rockliff-Ferguson government to abandon or at least delay plans to abolish the Department of Communities at least until the findings of the Tasmanian Commission are known.

With our child safety services under-resourced and at breaking point, it is vital that the right changes are made to protect Tasmania’s at-risk children.

Sarah Lovell MLC
Shadow Minister for Child Safety