The latest Productivity Commission Report on Government Services (RoGS) reveals the alarming damage to vulnerable children caused by the Hodgman Government’s flawed priorities and underfunding of child protection in Tasmania, Greens’ Human Services spokesperson, Cassy O’Connor MP, said today.
“Having assured Tasmanians that child protection is a priority for the Hodgman Government, Minister Petrusma has some serious questions to answer about this manifest failure to protect Tasmania’s vulnerable children,” Ms O’Connor said.
“The statistics, sadly, speak for themselves and those statistics aren’t just numbers; they represent some of our most vulnerable children.”
“The latest RoGS data shows a dramatic decline in the number of notifications of child abuse and neglect that are being investigated and substantiated in Tasmania, with completed investigations by Child Protection at their lowest level in a decade.”
“Of 12 862 notifications made to Child Protection Services in 2013-14, only 1278 investigations were finalised. That is a woeful less than 10% of allegations of child abuse and neglect being investigated by the government in Tasmania.”
“It is no good blaming previous governments for this alarming decline. The Hodgman Government has been in office almost a year and it made no extra allocation for staffing and resourcing to boost the capacity of Child Protection Services in its first budget.”
“Over the past year of data collection (2013-14), despite a 4% increase in the number of notifications of child abuse or neglect there were 28% fewer completed investigations than the year before and, correspondingly, 25% fewer substantiations.”
“A massive 86% of Tasmanian notifications were “dealt with by other means” which means they were either not investigated, or they were ignored or a referral was made to an underfunded Family Support system.”
“The only explanation for this appalling response to vulnerable children in Tasmania is the Hodgman Government’s harsh cuts to the Department of Health and Human Services budget and the non-renewal of child protection workers’ contracts as a result of those cuts.”
“Anecdotally, I am hearing from people who work in this sector that the child protection workforce has noticeably declined. This is clearly having a dangerous impact on the protection of vulnerable children in Tasmania.”
“Fewer child protection workers means fewer investigations and more children at risk of abuse and neglect, and that is simply unacceptable to every decent Tasmanian, I am certain.”
“This government found at least $50 million to prop up the forest industry in Tasmania, yet not one extra dollar to protect Tasmanian children. It’s, frankly, a warped set of priorities.”
“The Premier and Minister Petrusma have some urgent explaining to do,” Ms O’Connor said.