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Friday, April 11, 2014

Pru Goward under attack

Pru Goward

What a disgraceful state of affairs.  According to the NSW Ombudsman Bruce Balbour, there are 75,000 children currently at risk of serious physical harm from their parents or guardians in NSW.  It's got to the stage where parenting of little children is now so shocking, the government is obliged to step in to save them. How did it ever come to this?

The figures show that under Community Services Minister Pru Goward's watch, there were 75,000 cases of reported abuse that were never followed up by a caseworker.  Even though the figures are an improvement on three years ago, Mr Balbour is calling for Prue Goward's resignation.

It's easy to see that the children's watchdog is overwhelmed and can't possibly cope.

Opposition spokeswoman Labor's Linda Burney said "The last few years have just been a litany of failures" she said.  "The minister has lost the confidence of caseworkers and the public.  This report leaves her position untenable and it's time for Pru Goward to go."

Mr Barbour found that there were longstanding vacant caseworker positions that should have been filled, running as high as 40 per cent in some offices and out of 104,000 children reported to be at risk, only 30,000 received a personal safety check from a face-to-face caseworker. This lack of resources resulted in 40,000 cases being closed with little or no intervention.

Ms Goward said last night that getting co-operation from other departments and non-government organizations is difficult. "This is the hardest thing to do but we have to get better at it" she said.

Pru Goard has arguably one of the hardest jobs in the world.  She joined the ABC in 1980, firstly as a reporter for Nationwide then as a political correspondent on the 7.30 Report and Radio National. She was a high school teacher, a university lecturer in economics, a broadcast journalism lecturer, media consultant and freelance writer.

But she's also responsible for a shocking statistic - only 28 per cent of significant harm reports received by her department on her watch got a face-to-face caseworker. 

Not good enough Ms Goward, get onto Barry O'Farrell and get those caseworker vacancies filled.