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Trends and needs in the Australian child welfare workforce: an exploratory study

Child welfare Workforce planning Australia

The crises in Australian child welfare systems continue to adversely affect vulnerable children and families. This national study, published by the Institute of Child Protection Studies (ACU), found the Australian child welfare workforce is not adequately resourced to meet the current or future demands or support preventative efforts.

Demand for preventative support for children and families experiencing adversity continues to increase, yet the current workforce is unable to meet this demand. Preventative support is poorly defined, poorly trained, and poorly resourced. This increases the pressure on child protection systems and their workers who have to respond to complex situations often with inadequate training or skills and limited experience.

The consequence is that too many children are taken into care, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, and too many do not receive the care they need.

This ground-breaking study found more focus is needed to:

  • plan for growth in the child welfare sector
  • increase and up-skill the workforce to provide preventative support to families.
  • increase diversity within the workforce
  • better support supports for workers in the field
  • develop tertiary education needs to align with future workforce needs with prevention.

Workforce planning and reform is required to support all children and their families’ wellbeing, to address vulnerability early and reduce demand on child protection systems.

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