Member for Barwon, Kevin Humphries said he believes a mobile child protection unit being trialled in Western NSW has improved the safety of children in remote communities.
The Mobile Child Protection Unit (MCPU) is a new initiative by the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) that has been trialled since February to strengthen existing services.
“Since the trial began, almost 300 children who have been reported as at Risk Of Significant Harm (ROSH) have had face-to-face assessments by caseworkers from the mobile unit,” Mr Humphries said.
“Based in Dubbo, the MCPU services the communities in the local government areas of Bourke, Brewarrina, Cobar, Coonamble and Walgett. The mobile team of six caseworkers is providing a faster, more consistent response to child protection reports, increasing the number of children who receive a face-to-face visit in remote communities.
“The unit will provide a more consistent and timely response and increase the number of children reported at risk of significant harm who receive a face-to-face visit by a caseworker in remote communities.
“Typically, caseworkers may spend a few days or up to several weeks in the community supporting local staff and enhancing the child protection response,” Mr Humphries said.
“This new service has been specially designed to address the ongoing challenges with recruitment and retention of staff in remote locations.
“The MCPU will ensure that a greater number of skilled and experienced caseworkers are working across remote communities and allow local FACS staff more time to engage directly with families and participate in broader community engagement and development work,” Mr Humphries said.
According to the latest FACS caseworker dashboard for June 2015, the vacancy rate in Western NSW is one per cent, a six per cent decrease since the March 2015 quarter.
Western NSW received ROSH reports for 6,039 children with 30 per cent (1,798) receiving a face-to-face assessment.