WA Liberals commit to reinstating a stand-alone Department of Child Protection

April 19, 2024 10:00 PM
Libby Mettam
WA Liberal Leader
Merome Beard
Shadow Minister for Child Protection; Disability Services; Heritage

WA Liberals commit to reinstating a stand-alone Department of Child Protection

A Western Australian Liberal Government will bring back a stand-alone Department of Child Protection to ensure our state’s most vulnerable children receive the resources and care they deserve to get the best start possible in life.

In addition, a WA Liberal Government will provide $40 million over four years ($10 million a year) for early intervention programs, access to mental health services, and supporting families in crisis to address the reasons for children being in state care.

Liberal Leader Libby Mettam emphasised a WA Liberal Government would commit to ensuring lapses in the system were urgently addressed, with children, families, and staff at the forefront of future planning.

“It’s clear that caseworkers caring for children in custody of the state are doing the best they can with very little,” Ms Mettam said.

“They need more support to ensure that these children get the best possible start in life.

“A government I lead will return the Department of Child Protection to being a stand-alone agency, as it should have always been, so our most vulnerable children receive the care they deserve.

“Taking a child from their family must be a last resort, and as such, we’re committed to investing $40 million in early intervention programs to ensure families and communities have the resource to stop children being removed in the first place.”

In 2017, a newly-elected Labor Government made the decision to amalgamate the Department of Child Protection into the Department of Communities – a move that saw the responsibilities of 11 portfolios under 5 ministers fall into the one department.

“This amalgamation under the Cook Labor Government has led to significant shortcomings, with a notable lack of resources limiting capacity to respond and attend to the needs of children in care effectively,” Ms Mettam said.

“The move to combine these portfolios – despite the 2007 Ford Review stating that the then smaller, multi-portfolio department was already too broad and confusing – shows that this Labor Government is not considering the needs of our most vulnerable.”

Shadow Minister for Child Protection Merome Beard highlighted the dedication of many overworked staff in the face of staffing shortages and caseloads exceeding acceptable levels.

“Since this change, child protection caseworkers have reached out for help from the Cook Labor Government, calling for more support so that they can better provide responsive and attentive assistance for our state’s more vulnerable,” Ms Beard said.

“It is unacceptable that this government has allowed our case workers to be overloaded and overworked.

“Our case workers must be commended for their professionalism and passion despite these issues.

“It is saddening that this government has allowed a departmental area as important as child protection to go under resourced for so long.”

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