Kids could pay the price: MP

AN OUTSPOKEN advocate for better child protection services, State Clarence MP Steve Cansdell, is wary of changes announced at the weekend for the reporting of child neglect.

NSW Premier Kristina Keneally announced the changes under which suspected cases of child neglect and abuse will be dealt with by several State Government agencies, leaving the Department of Community Services with only the most serious of the cases to be investigated.

“I’m worried that unless it is all under one umbrella we may see kids fall through the cracks,” Mr Cansdell told The Northern Star yesterday.

“I’m not being political about this, but I just hope they had a long study into it and the right people were consulted.”

Community Services receives more than 300,000 reports of neglect or abuse every year and is struggling to get to every case, despite record budgets and staff numbers.

Other government agencies, including police, health, education, juvenile justice, and aging and disability, along with non-government organisations, will have a bigger role to play.

While the most serious cases will be handled by DoCs, less serious ones will be referred to Child Well being units that have been set up within each department.

Ms Keneally hailed the changes as a ‘new era’ in child protection.

“Our plan is to increase assistance to parents and families before they reach crisis point and their children are taken into foster care,” she said.

However, Mr Cansdell said he would have preferred the State Government reviewed the role and structure of DoCs.

“There needs to be more emphasis on early intervention to help children and their families,” he said.

Mr Cansdell said co-opting non-government organisations was a form of privatisation so the Government would not cop the flak when children were not protected.




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