26 September 2023

Extra services to protect vulnerable children

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The Department of Communities has announced that a new position of Chief Practitioner is to be created to oversee its Specialist Child Protection Unit.

According to the Department the initiative aims to boost the existing services that protect vulnerable children and their families, and steer at‑risk children away from the justice system.

It said it would be part of additional resources allocated in the State Budget to increase front-line staff and services in the area.

The Department said the extra resourcing was in addition to a previous $6.1 million allocation supporting children in care through the creation of a new Midland Care Team.

“The new care team comprises of 14 additional staff,” the Department said.

“In the last reporting year, and for the first time since 1997, the total number of children in care in Western Australia dropped by 2.8 per cent,” it said.

Minister for Child Protection, Simone McGurk said spending on child protection had been increased by almost 25 per cent and the child protection workforce by more than 20 per cent since 2017.

“That includes 218 full-time case workers,” Ms McGurk said.

“Every child deserves to grow up in a safe and loving environment, and taking children into care is always a last resort.”

She said the best long-term strategy was to support initiatives that helped families so their children could remain safely with them at home.

The Minister said the highly-successful Target 120 program that gives at-risk youth the tools to turn their lives around was also being expanded.

“These important programs make up the Government’s multi-faceted approach to protecting vulnerable children, families and individuals, and to support our local communities to thrive,” Ms McGurk said.

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