Legislative Council: Tuesday, November 29, 2022


Child Protection

In reply to the Hon. C. BONAROS ().18 October 2022).

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries): The Minister for Child Protection has advised:

1. In its first budget, the government made an investment of $128.9 million to Department for Child Protection (DCP) to meet the needs of children in care.

Targeted and deliberate efforts to recruit social workers and case managers have taken place in recent years, including partnering with the university sector to support over 100 social work students annually.

The result of these recruitment efforts has been an increase in the number of social workers/case managers in the DCP and an associated drop in vacancy rates.

2. DCP and partner organisations have committed to the development of a sector-wide workforce strategy to tackle workforce supply issues across the child protection system. The overarching workforce strategy will be informed by, and work alongside, similar efforts being undertaken at the national level that aim to meet child protection workforce requirements.

3. Key interconnecting factors including poverty, intergenerational trauma, domestic and family violence, alcohol and substance misuse and mental health issues impact the safety of children and young people in South Australia in the family home. The government and community sectors are working collaboratively to share information and deliver services to help improve outcomes for children and their families, prioritise children's needs for safety and wellbeing, reduce the impact of risk factors, and intervene to protect children and young people as required.

4. The turnover rate of social workers/case managers in DCP in 2021-22 was 13.7 per cent, which is significantly lower than the annual turnover rate typically reported in the child protection field, which is 20-25 per cent. A tight labour market and the range of roles on offer for social workers in the broader community sector mean that workers may choose to leave to work in other settings. For those social workers/case managers who do leave the department, reasons for leaving are consistent with the reasons of other DCP staff, and include:

taking up a promotional opportunity within or external to government;

end of contract or temporary role; or

personal reasons such as retirement, travel, study or change in personal circumstances.