Social workers key to Govt bushfire response

The union that represents public service social workers is today calling on the Morrison Government to uncap staffing levels in Services Australia to ensure fast and comprehensive service delivery for those affected by the bushfire emergency.

It is vital that the Morrison Government remove the average staffing level cap (ASL cap) to ensure adequate and timely access to government payments and assistance. Social workers are an essential element to the long-term recovery and the future resilience of communities.

Public service social worker numbers need to increase so that there is the capacity for social workers to assist bushfire victims in navigating all assistance available, this move would hasten service delivery and relieve the burden on victims.

The federal government have not employed any new social workers in over 6 months, and since coming to government have cut over 18,000 public service jobs. Remaining social workers have borne the brunt of increasing demand, with fewer staff leading to excessive workloads, and fewer social workers available at Centrelink offices.

Community and Public Sector Union National Secretary, Melissa Donnelly today said, “We are calling on the Morrison Government to increase public service social worker numbers to ensure that bushfire victims have a single point of contact for assistance while they rebuild their lives.”

“At a time of great crisis, victims and their communities need to concentrate on rebuilding, not working out what assistance they are eligible for. Social workers and case workers would be best placed to work with affected community members and departments to ensure the quickest response and coordination of services.”

“We know that this disaster will also not be fixed overnight, that is why we need the work of experienced public service social workers to ensure access to services but also guide victims through what will be a long recovery process. Public social workers are best placed to be able to work with victims and their families in what might be the most traumatic experience many people may have had.”

“18,908 or 11.4% of public service jobs have been cut under successive Liberal Governments, causing enormous damage to the capacity of the Commonwealth to deliver policy and essential services that all Australians rely upon. It is at times like this we really see the hard truth of this.”