Greater support for Vic child protection workers – is ECEC to follow?
A new wellbeing program for child protection staff to ensure that they have the mental and emotional support they need while looking after vulnerable children has been introduced by the Victorian Government.
State Minister for Child Protection Luke Donnellan said new resilience training has been made available to all child protection practitioners, leaving some in the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector to question if the same training will be made available to ECEC professionals, who often work alongside child protection professionals to support families and children where there are concerns or instances of child abuse and neglect.
The $1.24 million Child Protection Wellbeing Program is a support program that responds to the specific needs of the child protection workforce and will create a workplace culture that addresses occupational stress, however there may be scope that such a program, or elements of the same program, could be tweaked to suit the needs of education and care professionals.
As part of this program, child protection practitioners and managers will undertake training to build their awareness of trauma and develop strategies to counter the impacts.
A specialist support team will also proactively work with practitioners and managers to improve resilience and build their capacity to respond to complex and challenging situations – attributes and skill sets which would also be of use to those in ECEC.
Under the new program, child protection staff get up to six dedicated counselling sessions a year with qualified health clinicians that understand their work environment, as well as continuing to be able to access the four one-on-one sessions provided through the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services’ general Employee Wellbeing Support Program.
The establishment of the program directly responds to recommendations made by the Victorian Auditor General Office’s report released last May on maintaining the mental health of child protection workers.
More than 610 new child protection positions have been funded in the last four years – increasing the workforce by 43 per cent – to provide more support for children suffering abuse or neglect, Mr Donnellan said.
More information about the program is available through the Victorian Government website.