SA Govt Moves on Child Protection Agency
21 June 2016 at 2:30 pm
The South Australian Government has announced that its child protection agency Families SA will be split from the Education Department and become a stand-alone department.
The announcement follows an interim recommendation from the Child Protection Systems Royal Commission which found that Families SA needed to be “completely overhauled”.
The Royal Commission, which was prompted by the actions of Shannon McCoole, an employee who sexually abused children in state care, heard from 381 witnesses, received 373 submissions and issued 674 summonses.
The commission recommended that the South Australian Government move the office of child protection and the functions of Families SA out of the Department of Education and Child Development to establish a separate department that has the business of child protection as its primary focus.
The commission said the government must appoint a chief executive of the new department who has strong leadership skills and established credibility in child protection work, and who has a direct line of ministerial responsibility.
As well it recommended that the government implement a departmental structure in the new department that reduces the hierarchies between leadership and front-line workers.
Royal commissioner and retired judge Margaret Nyland said Families SA needed a fresh start.
“The agency tasked with the primary responsibility for child protection needs a fresh start, closely monitored and supervised by a refreshed leadership which is capable of modelling the standards of professional excellence that must be expected of staff,” Nyland said.
“Its agenda cannot continue to be subservient to the overpowering agenda of a larger department. Child protection is a difficult and complex business that requires many departments and agencies to work together.”
South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill said the commission was established to look at all aspects of the state’s child protection system.
“Implementing this recommendation ahead of receiving the final report will allow us to have the agency better placed to deliver on the important reforms that will be required,” he said.