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Labor misleading Parliament on child protection

Labor’s Minister for Child Protection, Luke Donnellan, has yesterday failed to explain whether he misled Parliament in relation to child protection staffing levels.

On 27 October, Minister Donnellan stated:

“Let us be very clear: in terms of the total number of people employed in child protection, it has never actually been higher.”

However, the Department of Health and Human Services recently tabled 2019-20 annual report (p 123) appears to contradict Minister Donnellan’s previous statement by showing a reduction of 71 staff within child protection, when staffing levels from the 2019-20 financial year are compared to those of 2018-19.

In response to yesterday’s further questioning, Minister Donnellan defended his previous statement but refused to confirm whether the decrease in staffing levels described in DHHS’ annual report had been rectified.

The Andrews Labor Government’s decision to reduce child protection staffing levels is utterly irresponsible at a time when:

  1. data published by DHHS in its 2019-20 annual report (pp 98-99) has revealed the Andrews Labor Government is failing to meet its own report management targets;
  2. the Victorian Ombudsman’s recent report in relation to abuse within Victoria’s residential care system has found serious systemic issues involving child protection; and
  3. recent modelling predicts an exponential increase in demand on Victoria’s child protection system as a result of the Andrews Labor Government’s COVID-19 restrictions.

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Child Protection, Nick Wakeling:

“The Andrews Labor Government has failed to prioritise the safety and wellbeing of vulnerable children during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“At a time when Labor is failing to meet its own report management targets and when it is predicted the COVID-19 pandemic will greatly increase demand on Victoria’s child protection system, any reduction in child protection staffing levels is deeply irresponsible.

“The Andrews Labor Government needs to stop playing politics with this issue and must ensure Victoria’s child protection system has all of the resources it requires.”

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