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Urgent Action Needed on Child Safety

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Monday, 17 July 2023

Tags: Child Safety, Children and Young People

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Acting Greens Leader

Revelations that calls about child safety concerns to the Advice and Referral Line have been going unanswered are incredibly serious, and demand immediate action by the Minister for Child Safety, Roger Jaensch.

When someone rings the ARL it’s because they are really concerned about the welfare of a child. In such a situation, it’s crucial that someone picks up the phone. Instead a lack of staff has meant these calls to report concerns around child safety, abuse, and neglect have sometimes gone unanswered.

Unfortunately, this is the latest in ongoing serious concerns about the functioning of the ARL, and wider failures in the child safety system in Tasmania. The Greens, the CPSU, advocates and experts have repeatedly raised these issues with the Government for years, but we’ve seen very little change

Minister Roger Jaensch’s repeated dismissal of concerns flies in the face of the evidence – his department has had the worst performance in the country for child safety investigations, every year, since 2015. If anything, Tasmania is falling even further behind.

If the Government had been doing enough to deal with the known critical issues of under-resourcing of staff, we wouldn’t be in such a distressing and high-risk situation with child safety today. Shamefully, for more than half of all risk reports to Child Safety Services, it takes over a month for an investigation to even get under way. 

The Commission of Inquiry has provided many stark examples of how public agencies failed to protect young people, but the distressing reality is there are still serious unaddressed risks for vulnerable Tasmania children today.

The Minister must admit his approach to date has failed. No phone call should ever go unanswered, and he needs to immediately invest in a dramatic resourcing increase to support a child safety system that has been understaffed for far too long.