PSA calls for greater transparency around Child Youth and Family review

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The government’s much-anticipated complete overhaul of Child Youth and Family leaves many big questions unanswered, the Public Service Association says.

Social development minister Anne Tolley has today released the final report of the Expert Panel chaired by Paula Rebstock, as well as cabinet papers regarding the proposed changes.

PSA National Secretary Glenn Barclay says there is a lack of clarity about the future workforce of the new agency, but there is a clear expectation that it will change in size.

The Ministry has told its staff that nothing has changed at the moment, and to focus on the job they are doing right now.

“It’s clear from the documents that there will be a substantial impact on our members and their families,” Mr Barclay says.

“Our members know there will be more information coming next month, and this ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ message will do nothing to calm their fears.

“We notice the repeated references in the Expert Panel’s report to the poor workplace culture at Child Youth and Family, and the lack of information about the future will not help that.

The PSA is particularly concerned about the implied criticism of social workers and their professional integrity.

“Our members in social work are not bureaucrats, but they have been made to take on increasing amounts of administration because they have not been properly supported,” Mr Barclay says.

“The documents make it clear there will be significant changes to their role, but it’s not at all certain how that will happen.

“Social workers will play a big part in this future agency, and they must receive proper administration and technical support so they can spend more time on working with children.”

The PSA notes that the new agency will be centered around children, but that its role will be largely a purchasing agency – and services will be delivered by a host of other organisations.

“We also have questions about the efficacy of the social investment model, which will be integral to this new approach.

“It is more about managing future costs than genuinely investing in our young people.

“Cabinet papers also reveal nearly half a billion dollars will be taken from elsewhere in the already-underfunded state sector to help pay for the new agency.

“There are ideological overtones in the government’s language that concern the PSA deeply.”

“We would encourage the minister to remember the aim of the Child Youth and Family review – which was to create a sustainable change that would not have to be revisited again and again.

“But in order to do that, she will have to take people with her.

“We urge greater transparency at all stages from this point on.”