MORE than 50 extra Child Safety workers have been employed to help make a difference to the lives of vulnerable children in southeast Queensland.
The extra 51 staff will be among almost 300 Child Safety workers tipped to be hired across the state over the next two years – the biggest injection of Child Safety resources in more than a decade.
Child Safety Minister Shannon Fentiman said the new staff would support existing personnel in the region, easing caseloads and ensuring more children can be kept safe.
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“The South East region received 18 new staff when we hired 129 additional Child Safety staff across the state in 2016-17,” Ms Fentiman said.
“Our Child Safety workers are amazing and are out there saving lives each and every day.
“We wanted to give them the support and extra staff they needed to do their job well and increasing the workforce of frontline workers does exactly that.”
Ms Fentiman said additional South East region staff to be employed in 2017-18 would include at least 44 full-time equivalent positions, with the remainder to be employed in 2018-19.
“Our Child Safety staff have one of the toughest jobs in the state and they work tirelessly to protect our most vulnerable children,” Ms Fentiman said.
“This investment of new staff is a game-changer that will make a real difference to the lives of vulnerable children.”
Ms Fentiman said Child Safety staff were dealing with increasingly complex issues as more families battled with ice addiction and domestic violence.
“We know here in the South East region in the year to March 153 children were found to be in need of protection because they had a parent using ice,” she said.
“We know this is a huge problem for a lot of families, with more parents known to the child protection system using ice than abusing alcohol.
“That’s why we introduced tough new mandatory drug testing for parents who want to keep their children, and I make no apologies for being tough on parents who are doing the wrong thing.
“Since late last year, parents have been required to undergo drug testing for any Intervention with Parental Agreement – in particular for ice use – if they want to keep their children.”
Ms Fentiman said the addition of extra staff was part of sweeping changes that were reforming the Child Safety system.
“We have made sure we have the frontline staff we need on the ground to help children who are at risk, and we have improved training and support for these staff,” she said.
“These new child safety staff will help bring down caseloads and support existing staff.”
State Member for Logan Linus Power welcomed the injection of staff.
“Child Safety staff already do so much incredible work, and now they will have the extra support and backup they need to ease caseloads and focus their attention on some of the most at risk children and families,” Mr Power said.
In the 2016-17 financial year, the Palaszczuk Government employed 129 additional frontline and frontline support Child Safety staff across the state and this year’s State Budget included $200 million over four years to hire almost 300 more.