The Hon. A.L. McLACHLAN ( 14:45 :18 ): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Higher Education, Employment and Skills a question regarding the government’s WorkReady initiative.
The Hon. A.L. McLACHLAN: During the inquest into the death of Chloe Valentine, the Coroner heard evidence from child protection expert Freda Briggs, who stated that social workers did not have the tools to detect abuse and that signs of neglect could easily be ignored. She also said that there was a reluctance among social workers to accept that children were abused within their families and that, as they are not adequately educated, they would be relying on their emotions rather than their professional knowledge.
One of the Coroner’s recommendations was concerning the training of social workers in the art of proper note taking with an emphasis on the need to be factually accurate and make a clear distinction between the facts of an event and the worker’s opinions, a mistake commonly made by those involved in the Chloe Valentine case.
TAFE SA’s Certificate IV in Child, Youth and Family Intervention and Certificate IV in Community Services Work are both funded through the government’s WorkReady program. A core unit of both of these courses is to identify and respond to children and young people at risk. My question is: can the minister advise whether she has entered into, or intends to enter into, any discussions with TAFE SA to ensure that these government funded courses implement the Coroner’s recommendation regarding the adequate training of social workers?
The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Employment, Higher Education and Skills, Minister for Science and Information Economy, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Business Services and Consumers) ( 14:46 :49 ): I thank the honourable member for his most important question. It is not my responsibility or my role as minister for employment and training to make judgements on the curriculum content of various courses. There are many of them, and clearly I do not have the expertise to say what should be included in a plumber’s course or a hairdressing course, social work or any suchlike courses.
What we have in place is a system to ensure that at a state and national level curricula are accredited through a process that involves very close industry input. We prefer that these are accredited at a national level through ASQA so that the same qualifications are then consistent throughout the states. So, an aged care worker in South Australia is being exposed to the same curriculum as an aged care worker in New South Wales as in the Northern Territory, etc.
We are working much more towards a national accreditation system. I am not too sure whether social work is a nationally accredited system; I imagine that it would be. Nevertheless, where that does not occur on a national level, a similar thing happens at a statewide level. The courses that the honourable member refers to are accredited. They have passed the rigorous process involving industry and other key stakeholders to ensure that that curriculum is relevant, and I am absolutely confident that they would also be considering very carefully the Coroner’s recommendation and making any changes to the content of those curricula.
As I said, I am not the keeper of curriculum content. My role is to make sure that there is a process in place so that training is accredited, that it is of high quality and that it meets national and international standards, and I continue to work very hard to ensure that that occurs.See full session on Hansard