The State Liberals have received a steady stream of confronting information from concerned Families SA employees about a string of mismanaged child protection cases in the wake of the Hillier tragedy and the Royal Commissioner’s determination that Families SA should be removed from the Education Department.
“The fact these frontline social workers are desperate for an avenue to express their deep seated concerns about Families SA’s ability to protect vulnerable children highlights the need for establishing a Children’s Commissioner,” said Shadow Minister for Child Protection Rachel Sanderson.
“Child protection workers should not have to put their jobs on the line to draw attention to the fact that Families SA is unable to cope with the volume of cases of children at risk of serious harm.
“Front line social workers need to be able to provide sensitive information to a Children’s Commissioner to fulfil their ethical and moral obligations.
“It is particularly disturbing to be presented with alarming information of children at high risk of serious abuse on which it is impossible to act because the person providing the information insists on anonymity to protect their job.
“As the Shadow Minister there is little I can do in these instances whereas a Commissioner of Children and Young People would be able to investigate the concerns without compromising the sources of the information.
“The crisis that has engulfed Families SA has created an atmosphere of fear and suspicion that prevents an honest dialogue within the organisation.
“A Children’s Commissioner would also provide a forum for the wider community to take their concerns.
“Worried family and friends who are being ignored by Government Ministers or Families SA would have the option of taking their concerns to the Children’s Commissioner.
“The creation of a Commissioner for Children would be a significant step in addressing the Weatherill Government’s endemic failure on child protection in South Australia.”