An Illawarra Family and Community Service health and safety representative has issued a provisional improvement notice amidst concerns that workers aren’t being properly supported.

A provisional improvement notice is issued to a workplace or employer when a health and safety representative believes that there has been a breach of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. The notice will direct the workplace or employer to improve work conditions. In this case, the notice relates to a lack of support for FACS workers experiencing trauma.

A lot of FACS caseworkers deal work in distressing settings on a daily basis.

Earlier this year, a FACS report revealed a particularly tragic case of child neglect in Wollongong. Social workers attended the home of a woman and her children to find faeces smothered over the walls and furniture. FACS caseworkers made repeat visits to the home, which was described as “uninhabitable”, in an attempt to support the family to improve the conditions for the children. Months later, after little to no progress, the children had to be removed from the mother’s custody.

Public Service Association of NSW Senior Industrial Officer Kris Cruden has spoken out about the difficulties faced by workers in the industry.

“It’s them who do sometimes find a child who has died, who they walk into a home where there is filth everywhere and drugs on a coffee table that are enough to kill a child,” Ms Cruden said. (Illawarra Mercury)

“We know of people who go home and cry for half a day on Sunday, just to get it out of their system, and then turn up for work on Monday.”

A spokesperson for FACS has indicated that the department has been striving to support the mental and physical health of its workers, pointing out that “the total number of number of psychological injuries has fallen by 38 percent from 2013-14 to 2017-18”. (Illawarra Mercury).

If you have experienced trauma and need support, you can contact LIFELINE on 13 11 14.

Workplace injury claims can be complex and stressful.

If you require legal assistance, call us on: (02) 4902 3800

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