Seven-hundred-and-fifty-four of Gippsland’s most vulnerable children do not have an allocated case worker in what Member for Gippsland South and Leader of The Nationals Peter Ryan today described as a tragedy and complete failure by the Brumby Labour Government to manage Victoria’s child protection services.
Mr Ryan’s comments follow a damning report by the Victorian Ombudsman which revealed that Victoria’s child protection system is not working with approximately three-quarters of all reports failing to be investigated, while nearly 60 per cent of these investigated cases in Gippsland go unallocated.
Mr Ryan said Gippsland currently has 1275 children in need of protective services, however just 521 of these children have an allocated case worker.
“It is simply unacceptable that sixty per cent of children in desperate need of a case worker are missing out, while three-quarter of cases aren’t even being investigated,” Mr Ryan said.
“As politicians, I believe one of our core responsibilities is to put in place laws and systems that protect those who are unable to protect themselves. These figures show the Brumby Labor Government is failing in this regard- failing to protect at-risk children and failing to support Gippsland’s child protection workers.
“The Brumby Government and The Minister for Community Services Lisa Neville have received almost 30 reports and reviews warning of failures in the system since it gained Government, but has failed to fix the problem.
“The added tragedy is that the government has wasted $66 million on the introduction of new technology with the budget for the system blowing out from $29 million to $95 million and more expense coming. That money should have been available to hire more staff.
“Labor cannot manage money and this time it is vulnerable children paying the price.
“The Premier should sack the Minister before more children have to suffer in silence and the situation becomes irretrievable.”
Member for Morwell Russell Northe joined Mr Ryan’s calls for the Minister to be sacked and said despite Labor’s rhetoric and plan to bring in workers from the United Kingdom, the number of at-risk and abused children not yet allocated a case manager continues to rise, large numbers of workers continue to leave the system and families and children are still unable to get the support they need.
Mr Northe continued: “Gippsland holds the top three positions on the Ombudsman’s list of unallocated case loads in Victoria. One worker is managing 177 children; another has 151 children, while the third has 131 children on their list”.
“This is simply too many children for one case worker to manage and it shows a complete failure by the Labor Government to manage the system,’ he said.
“A handful of workers from the UK won’t solve this problem, the entire child protection system needs to be fixed, something the government has ignored for more that 10 years.”