Fianna Fail Spokesperson on Children Charlie McConalogue TD has said the recent comments by the HSE’s Head of Child and Family Services, Gordon Jeyes, has cast serious doubts over the Government’s ability to manage mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse.
Deputy McConalogue said: “On RTE’s This Week programme Gordon Jeyes was quoted saying last month that there were members of Cabinet who believed in a system of mandatory reporting of child abuse allegations based solely on legislation. He also said such a system in isolation would not be fit for purpose. I agree with his assessment. Legislation on mandatory reporting must be backed up with adequate resources.
“When mandatory reporting was introduced in the Australian state of New South Wales, there was a six fold increase in the number of reports made. We cannot end up in a situation where additional reports clog up an
already overburdened social work system leaving vulnerable children at risk. Additional resources, including extra social workers, must be put in place if mandatory reporting is to work and achieve its objective of
“So far, the Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald has failed to provide any assessment on how mandatory reporting will impact on resources. In my view she has failed to publically recognise that it will be a real issue. I raised my concerns in the Dáil on the 12th July, highlighting that it is not sufficient to change legislation without addressing the consequent pressures on case management systems. The Irish Association of Social Workers have made similar warnings.
“Today, the Government received the same message from one of the most senior officials involved in child protection in this State. The Government must take heed of this and immediately make clear how they intend to back up the system of mandatory reporting with the necessary resources and cooperation between all of the Departments and agencies involved. Perhaps the Government should be less concerned with achieving positive headlines and instead concentrate on the substance of their policy announcements.”