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Staff shortages the last straw for community workers

Workers from the Lismore Community Services office staged a walk out yesterday to raise concerns about their working conditions as the NSW Minister for Community Services Pru Goward visited. Photo: Cathy Adams / The Northern Star
Workers from the Lismore Community Services office staged a walk out yesterday to raise concerns about their working conditions as the NSW Minister for Community Services Pru Goward visited. Photo: Cathy Adams / The Northern Star Cathy Adams

DEPARTMENT of Community Services staff walked out on the job for an hour in protest at staff shortages and lack of resources on Wednesday.

Almost the entire Blundell Blvd office participated in the strike.

Public Service Association of NSW assistant general secretary Steve Turner said the workers only walked out for an hour because their primary concern was the children.

"The Tweed office has a 20% vacancy rate," he said.

"That means they're 8 people under staffed."

About 30 people work in the office.

Mr Turner said the staff needed a better file system to manage cases because the current one was inadequate.

"It's very clunky and old and is a DOS style," he said.

"It's time for an upgrade to a modern system."

The previous government allotted $14 million to upgrade the system; $7 million is already spent.

"Minister Pru Goward must confront the reality that NSW can't do child protection on the cheap, we need more staff and resources, not budget cuts," Mr Turner said.

According to Mr Turner the funding has now been scrapped.

Another primary concern was the lack of resources available to the staff including no mobile phones or supplied vehicles to visit venerable children and their families.

"They're putting themselves at risk," he said.

"There needs to be more of the simple everyday things that most people take for granted."

There are no immediate plans for Mr Turner to return but he's happy to come back.

"I'll come back to Tweed if they want me to," he said.

"Community Services must be property resources, staffed and funded to provide high quality care and support to children at risk in our community."

Hour walks outs have already occurred at 17 locations around the state and will continue.

Topics:  department of community services, strike


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