5 November 2006

Work experience kids to fill child protection gap

| johnboy
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The ABC has the none to reassuring news that Katy Gallagher is going to fill the gaps in the ranks of child protection workers by getting uni students to work part time in the area.

Does my failing memory betray me? Wasn’t Katy going to fill these places with social workers from the UK who were just gagging to come live and work in Canberra?

A hint Katy, if you can’t fill the places you’re going to need to offer more attractive pay and conditions. From everything I’ve heard, throwing partially trained students onto the front lines isn’t going to encourage them to stick around once they’ve finished their degree.

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and who would replace her?

I agree FC. Intensive support would be a possible solution.
I guess, the main problem is, any solution involves more people resources that just aren’t there.
And getting any changes in legislation is terribly slow.

evee – That would suck. I feel for you.
I work with a lot of C & P clients and they are always bitching about their workers and this and that and I am usually thinking, “Yeah, they must just go through the phone book and randomly pick ppl’s families to break up – it has nothing to do with the drug use or violence, just random victimisation from Family Services”…It seems to me that they really think they have done nothing wrong.
I have been thinking that intensive support for a lot of these parents might help – as a lot of them aren’t evil, but just plain hopeless.
But then again, how many would agree to do that.

More workers, more consistency following the legislation, more debriefing and help to keep the workers there in the first place. A better court system would help, and a juvenille system that was not always so ready to throw kids into the street. There are so many more things that would help the system, but if upper management continue to treat there workers with a lack of respect and compassion, the problems of people leaving will always be there.

evee what do you think would help to fix the system?

Well FC, that happens to us on a weekly basis. I had one client living around the corner from me and he had already stolen my wallet, I moved before he could do anymore damage.

There is just soooo much I could say at this point – about the courts, the child protection sustem, and the way the ACT Govt mismanages all of it, but I have to be very careful of what is said in public. Needless to say, I am among many of these workers who are driving to work so burnt out that they can’t remember having got there in the mornings. And a caseload of 35 families (as someone said earlier, often ‘intensive’) is not unusual, with daily visits to the courts, the psyche ward, to schools obtaining sexual abuse disclosures. It is not an easy job.

It would be a f*cked job and would lack any real work satisfaction I think. Constantly surrounded by negativity.
They have got a really bad rep though for being slack…
But they are also doing a very hard job…
All I know is that I would never want to work there.
I wonder what it is like for these people when they go to the shops and might see some of their “clients” – do they risk getting bashed/abused by them ?(as they are the ones the family sees to have “taken their kids away” That would be pretty shit.

And you are very right JB, if the qualified workers have trouble coping with the job, wtf makes them think these kids can handle it?!?!

I know one worker from the UK is heading back. This worker said that they can’t work with the court system here and it is ‘impossible’.

I can’t blame the worker for heading back but I do wonder what is going to happen to their cases. They will most likely be handed to an already over worked worker, with children in need getting even less attention than they already.

And so, it goes on.

Quite frankly, the existing caseworkers are underpaid, overworked and suffer from low morale. If it wasn’t for the UK imports, the whole system would have collapsed long ago. At least they have a clue. But if you were a case worker with 27 kids to ‘manage’ as well as their often feral and abusive families, why would you want to work there? Any uni students that give it a go will be quickly turned off anyway. Having that many kids – all of whom are troubled, and many of whom are labelled ‘intensive’ by the system, is a major cause for a rethink. DoCS workers with ‘intensive’ young people have a much smaller caseload.

And all of this for far less than one could earn in the private sector doing some else.

The child protection workers in the ACT are true saints. Hire more, pay them more, and throw an annual celebration in honour of them – they deserve it.

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