5000 kids at risk of serious harm in the region were not seen by a caseworker, figures show

Figures released by the Department of Justice and Communities show that, of the 6820 at-risk children in the Illawarra Shoalhaven district, 1820 were seen between April 1, 2019 and March 31, 2020, which is less than the state average of 30 per cent.

That means more than 70 per cent of children were not seen by a case worker.

Labor spokeswoman for family and community services Penny Sharpe said the number of children reported as being at serious risk of harm in terms of their safety, welfare or well-being continued to climb, up 12 per cent from the end of 2018.

She said the latest figures quietly released by the department report that to the end of March 2020, there were 111,904 reports of children at serious risk of harm from neglect or abuse across the state.

Fewer than one in three of these at-risk children saw a case worker.

She said it was "disturbing" that 38.6 per cent of children whose cases were reported to the department were re-reported within 12 months of the department closing their case, which was up from 35.5 per cent in December 2018.

"These shameful figures show that the Minister has his eye off the ball and a system in crisis, unable to fulfil its most basic responsibility to the children of NSW," Ms Sharpe said.

Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward hit back saying the latest data showed that child protection case workers were seeing more children reported at risk of significant harm than ever before.

"A strong focus on seeing more children, improved practice and evidence-based family preservation programs has resulted in a significant reduction in children entering care since 2015-16," the Kiama MP said.

"The dashboard shows 33,499 children at risk of significant harm were seen by case workers in the 12-month period to 31 March, 2020.

"This is an increase of 10.6 per cent compared with the same period the year before.

"Our government has set ambitious targets, which aim to break the cycle of disadvantage and we will continue to strive to achieve them.

"The numbers can always be better, and we will continue to work hard to deliver better outcomes for vulnerable children and young people across the state."


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