This paper examines whether Community Services' capacity to adequately respond to children assessed as being at risk of significant harm has improved as a result of changes to the child protection system introduced through the former NSW Government's reform program.
It is now over 18 months since the reform program, 'Keep Them Safe', commenced. It is timely to document and discuss the progress that has been made, and some of the challenges currently facing the service sector. An important starting point for this work is analysing data from Community Services about the agency’s current operating environment.
That data illustrates that significantly fewer child protection reports are coming into the statutory child protection system as a result of changes implemented under Keep Them Safe. However, the data - which relates to the first 12 months of operation of the new system - does not appear to reflect a corresponding increase in the recorded capacity of Community Services staff to undertake more face-to-face work with families. Given that a key objective of Keep Them Safe was to limit the number of child protection reports being made to Community Services so it could focus on those children most at risk of serious harm, we questioned whether this objective is being met.
For this reason, we initiated an inquiry under section 11 of the Community Services (Complaints, Reviews and Monitoring) Act 1993 to examine whether Community Services’ capacity to adequately respond to children assessed as being at risk of significant harm has improved as a result of changes to the child protection system introduced through Keep Them Safe. This report examines this, and related issues, and makes a range of findings and recommendations.
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