Union fears children at risk

At the start of August there were 564 child protection cases in the Cannington area, up by 38 since June.

Figures by the Department for Child Protection and Family have shown an upward trend, with more cases being reported each month, while staff numbers are unchanged.

The Community and Public Sector Union/Civil Service Association reported 20 staff members in Canning were dealing with more than the maximum number of 15 cases at once and 12 staff in Armadale were also exceeding the limit.

WA assistant secretary Rikki Hendon said she feared vulnerable children will be put at risk.

‘There is not enough staff to do the job properly,’ Ms Hendon said.

Budget estimates for 2013-14 show there will be no increase in staffing, with the same number as last year employed to deal with the safety, support and wellbeing of children.

Ms Hendon said stressed staff are staggered by Minister Helen Morton’s comments on State Budget day that the workforce required to manage the workload was adequate.

‘The Government has conceded there are a growing number of young people with complex needs and challenging behaviour that require individual care arrangements, yet they are not prepared to employ more staff.’

But Department for Child Protection and Family Support director general Terry Murphy said the number of children in care in Cannington had remained relatively constant. ‘The department also has the ability to shift resources between districts if required,’ he said.

The number of workers handling 15 or more cases had remained steady and in some cases reduced, he said.

‘Caseloads are set by the State Industrial Commission at a limit of 15 and 18 in exceptional circumstances.’