22/04/2022 - 12:08

$114m for embattled child protection agency

22/04/2022 - 12:08

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The Child Protection Minister Simone McGurk has been in the headlines about dysfunction within the Department of Communities. Now, more than $100 million will boost funding.

$114m for embattled child protection agency
Minister McGurk spending big after coming under pressure

In a pre-budget spending spree, the McGowan government will throw $114 million at the beseiged Department of Communities child protection division.

The department has been under scrutiny ever since former deputy director general Paul Whyte was arrested on corruption charges and then jailed after pleading guilty to stealing $27 million from his employer across more than a decade.

Child Protection Minister Simone McGurk, who has been under pressure to respond to serious concerns, said $75 million would be used to employ an extra 36 new protection officers and create early intervention and family support services.

Last month, the union representing child protection staff, the CPSU/CSA, threatened a strike in protest at the shortage of case workers and the level of burn out being experienced within the department.

At the time, Ms McGurk said her government had already increased staffing numbers and the department on getting good results.

The minister has also come under fire after a department employee's home was raided by police on suspicion internal documents raising issues of dysfunction had been leaked to the media.

There was no reference to any of those issues in today's funding press release.

“We have increased spending in child protection by almost 25 per cent and increased the child protection workforce by more than 20 per cent since 2017," she said.

"That includes 218 full-time case workers. 

“As a government, we recognise the best long-term strategy is to invest in initiatives that support families so their children can remain safely with them at home."

This is not the first time a Labor government has been forced to inject millions of dollars into the department following public scandals.

In the mid-2000s, more than $300 million was committed in the wake of mismanagement, including the death of 11-month-old Wade Scale, who had been left in the care of his violent father and drug-addicted mother despite pleas to the department from family members.

The latest funding boost will also include $5.7 million to support children in the justice system.

“The McGowan government is committed to protecting vulnerable children and keeping families safely together to reduce the rate of children entering care," Ms McGurk said.

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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