Families SA staff are working overtime and agency staff are being hired to fill the gap left by staff being suspended after an audit of employment processes and staff records for people working in residential care.
The audit, conducted by former Police Commissioner Mal Hyde, was ordered by the State Government after the arrest of a Families SA worker accused of abusing children in state care.
Almost one in five residential care workers are under a cloud – 25 have been directed away from the workplace and a further 77 have been red-flagged as being of “high concern” requiring further investigation.
“All shifts are being covered and every child in residential care is receiving the appropriate level of support and supervision,” a Families SA spokesman said today.
“These residential care positions are being backfilled by a mixture of FSA casuals, employees working overtime and, where no alternative is available, agency staff.
“We require high quality care at all times for every child and all agency staff have the necessary DCSI clearance to work with children.
“Our preference is for FSA staff to deliver as much of the residential care service as possible and we are in the process of recruiting a further 180 employees to ensure the highest standards of care.
“In the interests of fairness, the department will not be releasing details likely to identify staff while the process of carrying out the secondary assessment demanded by the audit is ongoing.”
Residential care workers are not necessarily social workers, the spokesman said.
The Guardian for Children and Young People, Pam Simmons, told InDaily that while she supported the audit, she was concerned children needed better protection.
“We are concerned of course that the selection process perhaps wasn’t as thorough as it should have been in the first place. However, they’re taking corrective action now,” she said.
“Recruitment and selection is really only one part of being a child safe organisation.
“There’s so many other things that need to be done.
“If we get complacent because we have a rigorous recruitment and selection process then children will not be ensured of safety because you have to be able to, for example, have strong staff support and supervision.
“In relation to what they then do about caring for children in the short term when they’ve lost residential care staff – I’m afraid that’s the sort of detail that we wouldn’t know.
“We’ve got the situation in South Australia where we’ve got a higher proportion of children in residential care compared to other states and territories, and that’s far from ideal.
“We don’t have enough family based placements – so, foster care for example – where we can place children who need out of home care.
“We’re concerned that children get high quality care.”
– additional reporting by Bension Siebert
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