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Child protection system needs more investment to protect vulnerable children

Published: 12 February 2016

The Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) urges the Victorian government to invest in more early intervention, prevention and intensive family support services for vulnerable children and their families to ensure that the almost 3,000 thousand children suspected of being abused and neglected are receiving intervention services.

National President, Professor Karen Healy AM, says that the system is dealing with a significant rise in reports, due in part to the increased awareness in the community and services about what constitutes family violence, and the effects this has on children. This improved awareness is important for intervening early and appropriately to prevent further harm.

“An increase in the number of statutory child protection workers is needed to ensure that essential investigations occur for the safety of these children. This, however, is only part of the solution," Professor Healy said.

“Keeping children safe and well with their families should be the goal of child protection authorities,” said Professor Healy.

“These authorities will only be able to achieve this if all parts of the system have adequate resources – a skilled and supported frontline workforce and better investment in services that work alongside vulnerable families to prevent child abuse and neglect.”

Professor Healy says international evidence shows that preventative and intensive family support services help to keep children safe and well with their families.

“Based on this evidence, The National Child Protection Framework seeks to refocus our child protection service system towards greater emphasis on prevention and supportive interventions,” she said.

“Rebalancing the system will save lives and help to avoid the terrible emotional and financial toll associated with increasing child removals.”

On the Victorian Minister for Families and Children, Jenny Mikakos MP’s statement of support for child protection reform, Professor Healy said, “The AASW hopes she will commit to investing in a more holistic approach to child protection services in the state.”

The Australian Association of Social Workers represents over 9000 professional social workers, many of whom work on the frontline of child protection.

Professor Karen Healy AM was this year named a Member of the Order of Australia for her significant service to community welfare in the field of social work, particularly child protection, and to higher education and research.

To organise an interview with Professor Karen Healy please contact Emma Pegrum, Media and Marketing Manager, on 02 6199 5011 or 0408 200 191

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers