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Determining risks to vulnerable children a complex and difficult process

Published: 21 January 2016

The Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) congratulates the head of Tasmania’s child protection services, Mr Tony Kemp, for his careful but clear statements during the Baby Bjay inquest about the risks to children in some abusive or neglectful homes, and the realities of running a child protection service.

National Vice President, Christine Craik, said today that determining the risks to vulnerable children is a highly complex and difficult process.

“The greater the knowledge, skill and professionalism of child protection workers, the better the assessment and intervention that can reduce risk and increase the chances of a better outcome,” said Ms Craik.

“Engaging with families in a manner that allows for the assessment of risk while promoting a child’s wellbeing must be one of the most difficult professional responsibilities.”

Ms Craik said there is a delicate balancing act between protecting children and promoting family connection, and that there will always be risks associated with the process.

”The AASW also strongly supports the notion that the systems and processes of child protection services – when they are well-resourced and staffed by trained and supervised professionals – can reduce the risk of harm to children,” she said.

“Taking children into care might be a last resort but it is sometimes in the best interests of the child. On the other hand, well resourced supportive systems for at-risk children can keep them within their families and, in the vast majority of cases, this is the best option for the child.”

Whether they are at home with their families or in temporary or long-term care, young children who are at risk need well resourced professional workers, Ms Craik stressed, to ensure they are given the best chance of being raised in a an environment which promotes their wellbeing.

The AASW represents over 9,000 professional social workers, many of whom work on the frontline of child protection.

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

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers