CHILD protection workers are closing files prematurely to improve statistics, a parliamentary committee recommending a major overhaul of the child protection system was told.
The committee, containing Labor, Liberal and Greens members, yesterday handed down its final report, almost 300 pages long and making 183 findings and 176 recommendations.
The committee found the child abuse system was characterised by a culture ``defensive, risk averse and secretive in its dealings with families, foster carers and other stake holders''.
Evidence submitted by the Australian Association of Social Workers and medical clinicians suggested cases were being closed prematurely to ensure more favourable statistics.
The committee found there was also evidence of a tendency to close files after referral to another service provider without assessing if the family at risk had used the service.
The committee was told the child protection service required up to $30 million additional funding each year to meet the demand.
About 20,000 notifications of abuse and neglect are lodged each year in Tasmania.
The report is the 13th on child protection handed down since 2005.
Chairman Paul O'Halloran was confident this report would lead to change, despite the budget constraints.
``Child abuse and neglect comes at a huge cost,'' Mr O'Halloran. ``It comes at a huge cost to individuals, it comes at a huge cost to families, it comes at a huge cost to communities and its come at a huge cost to the state budget.''
Children's Minister Michelle O'Byrne said many of the recommendations were already being implemented.
``A professional and caring child protection system is in place right now, protecting vulnerable young people from harm each and every day,'' Ms O'Byrne said.
The union that represents child protection workers said the report provided a blueprint for the child protection system.
Community and Public Sector Union state secretary Tom Lynch said some of the reforms being implemented now were driven by budget cuts and we're not in line with the committee's recommendations.
``We have seen a culture come in of paper work and documenting things, which is good in its place but it seems to have taken over the basic principle which should be working with vulnerable children,'' Mr Lynch said.
Children's Commissioner Aileen Ashford said she hoped the changes would be implemented in two to three years.
``I would hope that the government would seriously invest in this over that period of time becuase we are judged by the way we treat our children and we care for our children,'' Ms Ashford said.
She also welcomed a recommendation she be able to launch her own investigations.
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