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The Munro Campaign: Conspicuously Silent

by PeakCare on 21st June 2011

Home -> Articles -> 2011 -> June -> The Munro Campaign: Conspicuously Silent

“Silence is golden when it’s called for. Silence can be deadly
when it’s not called for.”
— Meryl Runion

In 2009 The National Framework For Protecting Australia’s Children was launched. The framework kicked off an Australian wide, call to action to better our policies, procedures and practices with vulnerable children, young people and their families. I’d been feeling pretty optimistic about Australia’s chance to action child protection reform. However, as time has marched on, I have begun to wonder do we have the necessary climate to consider and support child protection reform in Australia, at this time?

Interestingly, as part of PeakCare’s Munro Campaign, I have been looking over the United Kingdom’s media and related systems response to the release of the Munro report. I got to thinking that not only is the Munro report sensible, timely and responsive, its also been written in a time and place that is ready and willing to do something different… something better.

In England the British Association of Social Workers and the College of Social Work (BASW/CoSW) are both on board with Munro’s recommendations and have said they are “like music to the profession’s ears.” BASW/CoSW has long campaigned to relieve social workers of the “unbearable bureaucracy and administrative overload” that hampers them working directly with people who need their services.

Matt Dunkley, president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, called on ministers to accept the report’s recommendations in full. He warned that the government would need to put their money where their mouths are, to fully support and endorse the systems reforms, including appropriately resourcing prevention and early intervention supports and services.

Penny Thompson, General Social Care Council (GSCC) Chief Executive said: “This report is clear about the need for a competent and confident workforce which is not afraid to exercise its judgement. We believe that a strong profession requires supportive employers who are committed to working closely with the professional regulator and the service regulators. Building on the work of the Social Work Reform Board, this report makes a further case to improve the knowledge and skills of social workers and takes on board a number of GSCC recommendations around initial education and continuing professional development.”

So making a quick, short list here… in the UK the Munro report and proposed reforms are embedded in and endorsed by:

* National government and local councils

* Three different regulatory and academic boards

* The Association of Directors of Children’s Services

* The Social Work Reform Board

* Child protection practitioners/social workers

When I ponder the current climate for child protection reform in Australia, I ask myself, do we have the “right stuff”?

Do we have anything resembling the professional standards, regulations and buy-in, in the Australian child protection sector that exists in the UK , which supports and endorses the Munro report and recommendations? Where are our professional standards, registration/licensure of child protection practitioners? Where is our commitment to professional development? Where is the voice of the AASW for child protection? Where is the voice of our Social Work and Human Services faculties? The voices of our professional practitioners?And when they speak, who is hearing them?

Why is it so few people in our sector have heard of our National Framework, let alone held a copy in their hands? Who is driving the Child Protection bus in Australia? In Queensland? Who believes or even knows the child protection system is in deep trouble as a system and is in desperate need of reform? Where is our collective voice?

Maybe these conversations are occurring. Maybe we are ready to accept the challenge of reform. However, to date I ask these questions and all I am hearing is a wall of silence. Are we ready for reform? Do you really think so?

Fiona McColl – Training and Sector Development Manager – PeakCare