‘Crisis driven’: how SA handicapped its child protection staff

The report of the royal commission into South Australia’s child protection regime has described a failing system in a state of permanent crisis, pointing to red tape and an undervaluing of professionalism, high turnover and inadequate resources for prevention, early intervention or staff training.

The system is “overwhelmed by the volume and complexity of work … in many cases the response comes so late that there is little choice to do anything other than to remove the child from their family,” says the landmark report by royal commissioner Margaret Nyland, released Monday.

“Under-investment over many years has hindered much service provision. Efforts to grapple with increasingly complex problems with increasingly limited resources have not worked,” the report reads.

The two year SA Child Protection Systems Royal Commission followed the discovery that Shannon McCoole, an employee of child protection agency Families SA, had sexually abused children and that the system had failed to pick up on a long list of red flags. The head of Families SA, David Waterford, resigned after the revelation in 2014.

FREE membership to The Mandarin

Receive unlimited access, get all the latest public sector news and features, plus The Juice, our daily news update sent direct to your inbox.

The Mandarin is where Australia's public sector leaders discuss their work and the issues faced within modern bureaucracy. Join today to discover the latest in public administration thinking and news from our dedicated reporters, current and former agency heads and senior executives.