Child protection workers protest over closure of Edgeworth Community Services Centre

Public Service Association

Child protection caseworkers will protest outside the Community Services Centre (CSC) in Edgeworth today (Thursday 18 April) at 12.30pm after management said the site would be closed.

The CSC is where child protection caseworkers support and protect children at risk of harm in the local area.

Last week child protection caseworkers declared the child protection system is now in crisis in New South Wales, and announced the commencement of an industrial campaign to force the NSW government to act to save thousands of at-risk kids from further harm.

The Public Service Association (PSA) says the month of campaign action will commence with a series of rolling stop-work meetings across the state and escalate as necessary.

Child protection caseworkers are concerned about chronic understaffing and staff burnout.

The announcement the Edgeworth CSC will close has only inflamed the concerns of local child protection caseworkers and expedited their contribution to statewide campaign action.

The action comes after alarming new statistics showed three in four children reported as at risk of harm from October 1, 2022 until September 30 last year received no visit from Department of Communities and Justice caseworkers.

More disturbingly, a recent report found low staffing numbers are believed to be among the reasons for some of the deaths of children in child protection in 2022.

The sector is experiencing an unprecedented attraction and retention crisis with one in four positions unfilled in some regions of the state.

The Department’s own figures show the vacancy rate for child protection caseworkers has increased exponentially in the last year, with the state losing more caseworkers that it is employing.

The child protection caseworkers that are left are relatively inexperienced and coping with the extra workload of colleagues who have left.

One in two child protection caseworkers leave in their first two years of employment with the department.

Premier Chris Minns needs to intervene, said PSA Assistant General Secretary Troy Wright.

“The most vulnerable children in New South Wales are at risk of serious harm, or even worse, because child protection caseworkers are chronically understaffed, exhausted and management just aren’t listening to their concerns,” said Mr Wright.

“But the response to this crisis by the Department of Communities and Justice management is to close offices rather than increase resources.

“PSA members are now concerned that we are at risk in NSW of exposing the very same vulnerable children we are meant to be supporting to even greater harm through a broken system.

“Chris Minns needs to immediately onboard another 500 child protection caseworkers to address the attraction and retention crisis in child protection, otherwise the system will collapse.

“To be fair the current government didn’t create this mess but it’s up to them to fix it.

“These child protection caseworkers are passionate about their work, and they want Novocastrians to know no urgent child protection responses will be impacted, and that skeleton staffing will be maintained at all times during this protest.

“But they feel they have to do something as management just aren’t listening to their concerns,” said Mr Wright.

Child Protection caseworkers will walk off the job and protest outside the Edgeworth CSC (720 Main Road, Edgeworth) today, Thursday the 18th of April at 12.30pm.

/Public Release.