The Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies (ACWA) has welcomed swift moves by the NSW Government to introduce national police checks for residential care workers in response to disturbing child abuse allegations linked to the North Coast-based residential care facility Wundarra Services.
ACWA CEO Andrew McCallum said the rapid response, which will further strengthen the screening measures embedded within the NSW Working With Children’s Check, sends a strong message that the safety and wellbeing of children and young people in care is a priority for the NSW Government.
“ACWA finds the allegations surrounding this case deeply concerning, and it certainly highlights the critical importance of stringent screening practices for those who are working with some of the most vulnerable in our community,” Mr McCallum said.
“In any circumstance where the safety and wellbeing of a child in care is jeopardised, it is crucial that the system undergoes serious scrutiny, learns and improves.
“The current Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has brought the issue of keeping children safe in organisational settings at front and centre. The actions taken by the NSW Government and the Children’s Guardian to tighten employee checks for residential care workers in response to this shocking case is a highly appropriate step which, it is hoped, will further enhance the efforts of organisations responsible for the care and protection of children and young people in this state.
“Sometimes it’s easy for people to be critical rather than constructive in this space. It is more important the focus remains on proactive efforts that aim to continually improve the way we respond to the challenges of child protection.”
The Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies is the New South Wales peak body representing non-government organisations which provide services to vulnerable children, young people and their families.