Caseworkers walk off the job over staffing

STOP WORK: Nowra Community Service caseworkers go on strike on the steps of the Family and Community Services building in Graham Street, Nowra as a stand against cut backs for child protection resources.

STOP WORK: Nowra Community Service caseworkers go on strike on the steps of the Family and Community Services building in Graham Street, Nowra as a stand against cut backs for child protection resources.

ANGRY Public Service Association (PSA) workers went on strike for an hour on Thursday in Nowra over child protection issues.

Community Service caseworkers walked off the job at Nowra’s Community Service Centre over the NSW government’s child protection resources.

The frustration boiled over after staff taking parenting leave were blamed for a staffing crisis that saw caseworkers swamped with six to 10 cases at a time. 

Illawarra/Shoalhaven case worker and PSA workplace delegate Aaron Cowey said the Nowra office once had four teams of six caseworkers.

“Today as you can see there are only a handful of us left,” he said.

“We’ve lost around 15 caseworkers in the past two years and the number of reports is only increasing, which has caused immense pressure.

“The Shoalhaven is a high-needs area.”

“What we want to highlight to people and the government is with less staff children are not able to get that face to face contact they need.”

PSA assistant general secretary Steve Turner said nearly 55,000 children reported being at risk of significant harm.

“The state’s child protection services are chronically under resourced and rather than moving decisively to fix the situation, the government, which has a statutory responsibility to protect the state’s vulnerable children, has stooped to blaming female workers who wish to spend time with their new families,” he said.

“The PSA calls upon Premier Baird to immediately address the real issues to prevent the tragedy of any child falling through what are increasingly wide cracks,” Mr Turner said.

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