Child protection swamps services

Lizette Twistleton
Lizette Twistleton Jacklyn Wagner

A ‘TIDAL WAVE’ of child protection reports received by NSW Community Services recently has left DoCS staff and local youth workers feeling helpless.

The NSW Community Services Annual Statistical Report shows the number of child protection reports received by community services over the 2008/2009 period has risen 12 per cent on the previous year.

It is the same case for the Northern Region, from Tweed Heads down to Port Macquarie, which also saw an influx of reports filed by police, teachers, community workers and others.

With no emergency youth accommodation and no adolescent foster care programs in Lismore, young people between 10 and 16 years old included in these rising statistics are taking to sleeping it rough in an attempt to leave their dysfunctional homes.

“I’m horrified at the kind of things kids go through,” Lismore City Council youth development officer Lizette Twistleton said.

“Community Services is struggling with the number of notifications they are getting, and their resources don’t match the level of community unwellness.

“They need to prioritise, and the young children and babies come first. Often for young people, 10 to 16, there are not the resources to provide for them. They can come here (Youth Connections) and have a shower and have some food, but we might not have a place for them to sleep.

“That means they go away with nowhere to stay.”

Ms Twistleton said she and Community Services workers were frustrated knowing the number of kids who were in trouble and that they couldn’t do anything about it.

NSW Community Services recently changed its name from Department of Community Services in an attempt to break away from the negative stigma attached to DoCS.

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