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Child Protection Week: time to better support vulnerable children

Published: 1 September 2017

Child protection work is one of the most challenging areas of practice and vulnerable children and families need the support of knowledgeable, well trained, accredited and well-supervised professionals, the President of the Australian Association of Social Workers, Professor Karen Healy AM, has said today, in the lead up to Child Protection Week (3-9 September 2017).

“Child protection work is demanding and complex and requires expert knowledge and a multitude of skills,” said Professor Healy.

“That’s why it’s important that governments make a commitment to recruiting and retaining qualified staff who specialise in working with children with challenging problems, and to the registration of social workers.”

For many years, the AASW has called for better supervision of child protection workers and for registration for social workers to improve regulation of this workforce and to reduce risks to vulnerable people.

“The findings of the South Australian coroner investigating the death of Chloe Valentine in 2015 called for formal registration of social workers but this is yet to become a reality,” said Professor Healy.

She said improved workforce regulation also needs to be paralleled with greater resourcing of preventative and early intervention services.

“Children and young people who come into the care of the state are amongst the most vulnerable members of society,” Professor Healy said.

“Governments have a responsibility to focus efforts on creating environments that support children, young people and families to substantially reduce the various factors that increase the likelihood of abuse.”

Social workers on the frontline see the impact on children and families when a preventative focus is lacking and they understand the significant difference that early intervention can make, Professor Healy says.

Child Protection Week is also an important reminder that the welfare of children is everyone’s concern and cannot be left to governments alone,” she said.

For more information about social workers’ expertise in the field of child protection, read the Summer 2016 issue of Social Work Focus magazine.

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers