Paid Placement for our at Risk Children and FV Workers

  • 6 May 2024

The introduction of paid job placements for social workers by the Albanese Government is welcome. Social Workers play key roles in state and territory governments including staffing the Child Protection Services, Supporting Inmates and parolees from re-offending through programs, and monitoring in jail, youth detention centers, and offenders on parole placed in the community. 

The Albanese Government has announced it will establish a Commonwealth Prac Payment to support students undertaking mandatory workplace placements required for university and vocational education and training qualifications.  Australians studying to be a teacher, a nurse, a midwife or a social worker will be eligible for this payment.

This new payment will provide around 68,000 eligible higher education students and over 5,000 VET students each year with $319.50 per week during their clinical and professional placement periods.  Benchmarked to the single Austudy per week rate, this payment will provide cost-of-living relief for many students. It will be means-tested and available from 1 July 2025 and will be in addition to any income support a student may also receive.

Karen Batt said, ”this funding will really help attract and retain social workers to the Child Protection sector, a sector that is in crisis across the country.  For too long female dominated occupations have gone without financial support whilst undergoing practical “on job” training, whilst male dominated occupations have generally provided financial income support.  CPSU estimates that in statutory Child Protection alone there is demand for over 2000 more social workers with social worker vacancies creating a crisis for our most needy children with only a small fraction of reports to our Child Protection agencies being investigated.

A number of children are in care but are not being given the support, monitoring or help they need because there are not enough social workers to manage the out of home care arrangements.  Early intervention and prevention programs are simply not occurring as needed, if we are to turn around the Closing the Gap Targets and address Aboriginal disadvantage, programs such as this are required to get more social workers into work and helping our most needy.

Similarly in our corrections and youth justice systems, social workers who provide programs to reduce recidivism including Family and Domestic Violence, which is one of the largest crime categories leading to incarceration today, will welcome new job placement support, to enable these social workers to support more inmates making important life changes.

The Community and Public Sector Union is the Child Protection Union and the Union for Community Correction, Probation, and Parole Officers.