Record number of child safety staff to hit the ground under 2017-18 Budget

Published Saturday, 10 June, 2017 at 09:09 AM

Minister for Communities, Women and Youth, Minister for Child Safety and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence
The Honourable Shannon Fentiman

The Palaszczuk Government is strengthening the safety of Queensland kids with the biggest-ever funding injection to support frontline jobs for the state’s child protection system in over a decade, hiring almost 300 new child safety frontline and frontline support staff over the next two years.

Importantly, this includes creating senior Child Safety Officer positions that provide career progression for our valued, frontline child safety staff so experienced officers stay working directly with families on the frontline and are able to mentor new staff.

Child Safety Minister Shannon Fentiman said an additional $200 million investment over four years means an extra 236 new child safety workers will hit the ground this coming financial year, increasing to 292 in 2018-19. This is on top of 129 new child safety staff that commenced in 2016-17 – a total of 421 new child safety staff over three years. 

“This is the biggest funding injection to support frontline and frontline support child safety jobs in over a decade” Ms Fentiman said.

She said the additional $200 million investment would fund the extra staff, bringing down caseloads, improving practice and support to children, parents and carers.  

“Our child safety staff are some of the hardest working in this state, they work tirelessly to protect Queensland’s most vulnerable children. We must do everything we can to ensure they have the support they need to do their jobs.

Ms Fentiman said the growing prevalence of ice use among families and escalating reporting of domestic and family violence meant additional support was needed for Queensland parents grappling with complex issues around violence and ice addiction.

“Alarmingly, one in three children found to be in need of protection in the past year had a parent who was using ice,” she said.

“That’s why we are investing $7.4 million over three years to help families struggling with an addiction to ice.

We want to make sure support is there for families so they can get the facts, develop strategies and find out where to access help and support.”

The 2017-18 budget boosts investment in child safety over the next four years, and includes:

  • $62.9 million for the creation of 50 new senior child safety officers and 68 child safety officers. The new senior positions will provide career pathways for experienced workers to stay working directly with families, carers and young people.  90 of these positions will be created in 2017-18 with a further 28 in 2018-19.
  • $16.2 million for the creation of 40 new child safety support officer positions to provide more dedicated support to children living in out of home of care. 30 of these positions will be created in 2017-18 with a further 10 in 2018-19.  Child Safety Support Officers work in teams with Child Safety Officers, support children and implement case plans with carers and parents.
  • $10.6 million for the creation of 40 new administration officers positions to work on the frontline in Child Safety Service Centres to support front line workers. 25 of these positions will be created in 2017-18 with a further 15 in 2018-19.
  • $10.3 million for the creation of 20 new Child Safety Senior Team Leaders positions to improve supervision and ensure experienced workers are on hand to work with staff on complex cases. 14 of these positions will be created in 2017-18, with a further 6 in 2018-19.
  • $7.8 million for an additional 20 child safety staff to form a relief pool to backfill for staff on leave.
  • $3.7 million for an additional seven child safety staff to form mobile, specialist practice teams to provide additional professional development and support for new staff.
  • $5.5 million to increase Intensive Family Support service to meet needs of families coming to our new state-wide Family and Child Connect services, and
  • $2.2 million to support child safety staff working in the community with families and carers through the roll out of additional mobile devices.

This new funding for a record number of new staff will transform front line Child Safety Service Centres across Queensland and also includes a number of measures already announced that are rolling out in 2017-18, including:

  • $17.4 million for 33 new child and family service staff to implement a new service centre improvement program
  • $5.4 million for 12 new Child Safety Officers to work with Hospitals and Health Services
  • $8.9 million for 20 new nurses to work in Family and Child Connect Services
  • $18.3 million to support the recruitment of up to 1,000 more foster carers and provide a new child care cost gap payment to help carers access child care and kindergarten

In addition, a number of other measures will be progressed in 2017-18, including:

  • $9.2 million for 13 new child safety staff to boost the new Morayfield Child Safety Service Centre
  • $6.9 million for new foster and kinship carer support through independent and specialised support services

Ms Fentiman said no area requires greater change than addressing the challenges facing our communities and families that leave Queensland children at risk.

Since 2015 the Palaszczuk Government has been steadily and deliberately restoring funding to frontline services for children and families. This significant investment brings our total budget for Child and Family Services to over $1.1 billion for 2017-18 and places Queensland’s child protection system on a sustainable path.

Media Contact:          Minister Fentiman’s office                 0439 189 186