Government Minister’s horrific excuse about Child Abuse hotline failure
Talk about infuriating.
Just wait until you hear a Government Ministers horrific excuse about call centre performance on the child abuse hotline.
Looks like we have a new call centre expert amongst us.
South Australia’s Child Protection Minister Susan Close has declared that the Abandoned Calls metric is pretty much garbage as “most callers would call back anyway”.
With wait times of over 40 minutes and over 27,000 unanswered calls in 2015-16 clearly, the Minister is a leader ‘in the know’ on efficient contact centre management.
What’s sickening is that this was in a call centre that is set up to take calls about possible children abuse.
I try and remain impartial in most articles but seriously, pull your head out of your arse Minister Close and invest in adequate resources, technology and expertise.
I might know a few people that can help…
Families SA: Calls unanswered, children spending nights in hotel rooms
More than 26,000 calls reporting possible abuse cases to South Australia’s child protection agency have gone unanswered in the past year.
According to data released by Families SA, in June 2016 alone, 2,006 calls went unanswered while those that were answered had the caller wait an average of almost 40 minutes to talk to someone.
The first monthly report from the trouble-plagued government agency details the number of children in care, types of accommodation, and the number of notifications recorded in the system and followed up.
It showed as many as 190 children were sleeping in emergency accommodation each night in hotel rooms or rented apartments under the care of staff.
Emergency accommodation is costing the department up to $600,000 a month.The report also showed 3,234 children were in out-of-home care and half of those lived with a relative or someone they knew.
According to the report, more than 57,000 calls were made to the Families SA Call Centre and about 30,000 were answered in 2015-16.
Last month the Government announced Families SA would be split from the Education Department following a recommendation from the Child Protection Systems Royal Commission, which was prompted by Shannon McCoole, an employee who sexually abused children in state care.
The agency has also been subject to scathing assessments by the SA coroner following the death of young girl Chloe Valentine and the death of baby Ebony in a separate case.
Callers would try again, Minister says
Child Protection Minister Susan Close denied children were being put at risk and claimed most notifiers called back if they could not get through.
She said eight non-social worker staff had been brought in to take calls to ease the workload.
“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the call could be answered immediately?” Dr Close said.
“What we’re trying to deal with here is an increasing volume of the number of calls coming in, increasing complexity in what’s being reported, so we need to take a bit longer to get all the information.
“I would expect the vast majority [of calls] if not all of them to be repeat calls, until they do get an answer.
“So it’s impossible from those figures to know if there are calls that are never answered, that the person never gets through.
“Most of our notifiers are mandated notifiers so they have to get through.”
She said the number of children in care was increasing and more people were needed to be carers.
“We need people who are prepared to take kids home and look after them,” Dr Close said.
“Although we have increased the number of foster carers and kinship carers, we haven’t increased them as fast as the number of children we’re having to remove.”
A protection system in crisis
Opposition spokeswoman Rachel Sanderson said the service was “understaffed”, “overstretched” and “in crisis”.
She said there had been complaints about children being removed from foster carers and the carers felt like they were treated like babysitters.
“This is a very difficult area, however, we’re always one of the worst performing states in Australia and we’re all subject to the same changes and the same difficulties.
“We’re basically operating a system in crisis with an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff instead of stopping it from getting to such a tragic situation.”
She said the State Government planned a cut to the child protection budget.
“Nobody believes there has been a substantial drop in child abuse and neglect in South Australia in the past year,” Ms Sanderson said.
“Yet the state budget papers show an 11 per cent drop in child abuse investigations and a 12 per cent fall in substantiations of child abuse in 2016-16 when compared to 2014-15.”
Recommended reading: Child Abuse Hotline in South Australia with 62 minute wait times
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