Child protection cap lifted

By Elise Snashall-Woodhams
Updated November 7 2012 - 6:28am, first published November 20 2011 - 11:03am

BENDIGO child protection workers will begin accepting new cases from today after the Community and Public Sector Union agreed to a suspension of its caseload caps in exchange for fresh talks with the state government over their pay dispute.Both sides were labelling the decision a win yesterday, with Health Minister Mary Wooldridge saying the CPSU’s original cap on the number of cases a child protection worker would take on were “harmful” for children.During their stop work action, union members capped their case loads at six or 12, depending on their level of experience.But yesterday it was announced that particular industrial action would be suspended for seven days while EBA negotiations between the government and CPSU were renewed and an agreement was reached.Child protection workers will still continue with a host of other bans, including ignoring calls before 9am and after 4.30pm.“This means negotiations towards a settlement of the next Victorian Public Service enterprise bargaining agreement can continue without the disruption of harmful industrial bans affecting vulnerable children,” Ms Wooldridge said.CPSU spokesperson Julian Kenelly said children were never under threat by any of the union’s industrial action.“We refute that, that’s just playing silly blame games, it’s far better to get around the table and talk about a way forward,” he said.Mr Kenelly said there were 50,000 child protection cases in Victoria and less than 1500 workers.“They’re overworked and she (Ms Wooldridge) treats the staff like pack horses then tries to blame the stop work action for harming children,” he said.In the Loddon Mallee there are six staff dealing with 366 children in the intake unit and eight staff monitoring a further 297 children.Ten staff who have experience in child projection have been sent from Melbourne to Bendigo to provide assistance during the stop work action but are not being allocated to individual children.– with AAP

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