Latest figures on child abandonment highlight deeper issues
New data showing 117 children were abandoned in playgrounds or play centres in just six months is extremely concerning and highlights the serious issues facing many families in our community, Shadow Minister for Family and Community Services, Barbara Perry said today.
Information provided in response to a question on notice from Mrs Perry has revealed that in the six months from July to December last year, 117 children were reported to the Department of Family and Community Services after being abandoned.
Police were involved in 24 of the cases.
“These figures are extremely concerning,” Mrs Perry said.
“Clearly, these are cases of irresponsible parenting. However, I also fear they point to far more complex issues where families are just not functioning as they should.
“In cases where Family and Community Services are receiving notifications on multiple occasions, it is critical we engage with these children early before they enter the child protection system.
“Minister Goward needs to ensure that information from these reports is responded to quickly and that families under stress are referred on to programs to support them.
“We know that the Department of Family and Community Services is facing major staff shortages under the O’Farrell Government.
“Reports by the NSW Ombudsman and Auditor General have shown there are significant staff shortages in high needs and rural areas.*
“Cutting the number of caseworkers and support staff will only make addressing cases of child abandonment more difficult.
“With the O’Farrell Government’s second Budget looming, the Minister for Community Services needs to fight for far more funding for early intervention services than she did last year.”