Berejiklian govt cuts 20% of welfare oversight staff, leaving children in hands of costly, private providers

Public Service Association

Sweeping job cuts to NSW’s welfare services will leave vulnerable children more exposed and the state reliant on costly private companies to provide core services, such as child protection and housing, the union is warning.

Job cuts to the Department of Communities and Justice will see 175 jobs go from the the Strategy, Policy and Commissioning section. These roles range from developing targeted, preventative programs to overseeing external contracts with private providers, which end up costing taxpayers more than state-run services.
“The Berejiklian government’s relentless cuts and outsourcing of core public services mean that opportunities for intervention with kids and families are consistently missed,” said Stewart Little, general secretary of the Public Service Association.
“The Berejiklian government is now cutting the jobs of people who deliver preventative programs, and make sure outsourced services are delivering. Rather than investing in meaningful state-led reform the government is trying to wash its hands of the most vulnerable, and leave it to a few under resourced private providers with limited public oversight or transparency.”
The independent David Tune report into child protection found of the $1.86 billion the state spent on vulnerable families, half – $960 million – is spent on outsourced, privately-provided out of home care. This all comes at significant costs to the taxpayers as it costs nearly double to put children into an privately run home, rather than a state-run one.
Further job cuts to the people who oversee these contracts means the government has limited visibility over how money is being spent or the outcomes it should expect.
“People who work in child protection tell me the private providers effectively have the government over a barrel – they know the government has cut services to such an extent it has no choice but to use the private service, and they charge what they like.
“Welfare in NSW is now a crisis-driven system, with case workers operating in survival mode unable to deliver long-term outcomes for anyone. The people who do the planning are under constant pressure to deliver savings rather than meaningful investment in how to improve services and get better lives for all people who need help.”
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