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Child Protection Policy 2023

17 March, 2023

March 17, 2023

Child Protection & Early Intervention

Around the world one of the most precious and protected beings are children. For many of us, that’s who we care for the most. Children are the ones who we spend our days making sure they are safe, warm and have what they need for the brightest future possible. Despite this, in some cases children are not always safe, not always warm, and not always looked after. There is a role that is played by Government, so when our children are at risk they are protected.

 

I recently jointly released information regarding the new 10-year strategic health plan for regional NSW. The point of this is about accountability. It’s about having strong reporting back to government with clear metrics, this drives outcomes and means government knows where resources are needed most to achieve the best results for the people of NSW.

 

Portfolio Committees are established within the NSW Government to inquire into and report on any matters relating to the public administration of each of the ministerial portfolios. One of these committees is for Regional NSW and Stronger Communities and one of the areas it covers is Families and Communities.

 

The number of children across NSW at Risk of Significant Harm (ROSH) has continued to increase over the past few years. 114,000 Reports of Risk of Significant Harm for children were reported to the department in 2020, this number increased to 126,000 reports for 2021. Of these, up to 70% have not been seen by the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ), that’s up to 90,000 children in NSW who may have not been seen by a professional after having been reported as at risk of significant harm.

 

During hearings, the Portfolio Committee asked the question of the Minister and the Department whether those 90,000 children were in fact seen at all.

 

2 March 2022 – The Hon. Adam Searle, Question on notice to The Hon. Natasha Maclaren-Jones, Minister for Families and Communities. (Taken from hearing transcript)

How many of 90,000 children not seen by the Department (DCJ) following a Risk of Significant Harm Report (ROSH)

  1. Were definitely seen by another organisation or agency as a follow up to the ROSH report?
  2. May not have been seen by anyone, including because no records exist or because the department does not know?

Answer to Question on Notice provided 26 September 2022 by The Hon Natasha Maclaren-Jones:

The Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) does not currently hold reliable linked data regarding the number of children reported at Risk of Significant Harm seen by another organisation or agency, not DCJ.

 

This is a terrible admission.

 

This is why I am advocating for metrics-based reporting across departments. There needs to be accountability.

 

Early intervention is proven to assist in the long-term benefits of children and families in all parts of life. This has long-term benefits on the reduction of things like crime and improved health outcomes.

 

Reporting systems need to be overhauled, including internal systems. Agencies and organisations funded by Government to assist in meeting demands such as physically seeing a child reported at risk of significant harm need access to systems that are integrated and allow easy access to data. We need to know that our children are being seen and heard.

 

The recent inquiry into the Child Protection and Social Services System showed things clearly, just like the Rural Health Inquiry. We know that outcomes are not being met, we know that changes are not being made.

 

The first recommendation from the Inquiry into Social Services and Child Protection was:

 

That the NSW Government identify and respond to any outstanding recommendations from recent reviews and inquiries of the child protection and social services system.

It was noted that there have been successive inquiries, 2008, 2015-16, 2017, 2019 and an Auditor Generals report that each show consistent findings on what needs to change that has not been implemented.

 

This sounds remarkably like what we are seeing after the 44 recommendations of the Rural Health Inquiry. Lots of clear direction that is not being acknowledged.

 

Reporting to government with metrics-based systems ensures that no further admissions or inquiries show a continued lack of accountability and positive change across the many departments that service our communities and its’ youth. It’s not good enough and cannot continue.

 

This information is public and can be found on the parliamentary website. You can access this here

https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/committees/listofcommittees/Pages/committee-details.aspx?pk=203#tab-reportsandgovernmentresponses

 

Media contact Troy Lennon 0447 381 148

 

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