Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wood Commission Report into the NSW Child Welfare System

The report by Justice Wood into problems facing the NSW child welfare system has now been released. Those interested can find the report here.

I have written on this topic for personal and professional reasons. Posts include:

These posts form a sub-set of a broader set of posts looking at the evolution of and weaknesses in public policy and public administration in Australia. There are too many to list.

One of my central arguments has been the way in which current obsessions with measurement, risk avoidance, compliance and control create increasingly unworkable systems. In the case of child welfare in NSW, I pointed to the way mandatory reporting had placed strains upon the child welfare system that essentially made it unworkable.

I have yet to read the detail of Justice Wood's report. However, it appears to centre on the problems I have talked about.

I take no pleasure in this. It is tragic that it should take the death of children to force a change in approach. Further, I see no evidence that the broader lessons have been accepted in any real way within the community. We may improve child welfare in NSW, an important gain, while leaving broader systemic problems untouched.

The biggest problem lies in ourselves. We continue to think that Governments can and should do more than they can. So long as this continues, our systems will fail.

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