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AASW CALLS FOR REFORMS TO NSW CHILD PROTECTION

Published: 14 December 2020

Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) have called for a systemic overhaul of the New South Wales child protection and social services systems to better to protect vulnerable children and families.

The AASW submission for the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into the child protection and social service systems includes 32 recommendations that would address the fundamental problems across the child protection and the social services system.

These recommendations include strengthening the child protection workforce, adopting a comprehensive approach to wrap services around vulnerable families, as well as ensuring primary intervention and prevention programs are adequately funded.

AASW Chief Executive Officer Cindy Smith said the child protection system and family support services in NSW need to promote the best interest of a child across the entire social service system.

“Families come into the child protection and social services system, due to a complex set of circumstances and it is vital that they receive supports from highly trained and skilled professionals.”

“The social services system needs to embody the human rights values and approach of the social work profession, so that it leads to better outcomes for vulnerable children, young people and their families.”

“The statutory registration of social workers is one of the AASW recommendations that we would like to see adopted in NSW. It is a significant public safety measure to reduce the risks to vulnerable people by assuring education, practice and professional development standards across the NSW child protection and social services system.”

“Importantly the South Australian government will vote on the statutory registration of social workers in February 2021. The report to the Social Work Registration Bill 2018 (SA) has demonstrated the potential for every other state, including NSW, to legislate a social work registration scheme,” she said.

NSW Branch President Jack Whitney said child protection is incredibly complex work, with some of the most vulnerable children and families in the community.

“That is why greater focus needs to be given to how the workforce is recruited, managed, and adequately funded to ensure that a child’s best interest is in the forefront of every worker in the system. Unfortunately, this has not been the case in NSW.”

‘An inconsistent and isolated workforce, alongside their risk averse approach to child protection, contributes to a significant failure to wrap support services around vulnerable children and their families in NSW,” he said.

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers