All residential care workers will undergo individual psychological assessments to ensure suitability for working with children.

The Department for Child Protection announced today it will apply the assessments, used since 2016, to all staff who have not already gone through this process.

The decision implements recommendation 138 of the Nyland report, which supported the continuation of psychological assessments under the Department’s 2016 recruitment model.

Chief Executive Cathy Taylor has determined, on the basis of the Nyland Royal Commission and recent legal advice, that it is appropriate to apply the 2016 assessment process to all existing staff in the residential care directorate.

Testing will begin this month and it is anticipated approximately 350 employees will undergo the assessment between now and April 2017.

Background

The Department has contracted forensic psychology practice PsychCheck to undertake the assessments, which will include research-validated psychometric tests and a structured 1:1 interview to rigorously assess employee suitability.

In November 2016, the Government accepted recommendation 138 from Commissioner Nyland’s report:

Recruit child and youth support workers in accordance with the 2016 recruitment model, including a requirement that all applicants for those positions undergo individual psychological assessment.

The Nyland report is clear that the 2016 model, while not able to remove all risk in the selection of people suitable for caring for children in residential care, improves on previous recruitment processes and should be used to assess child youth and support workers.

Quotes attributable to Department for Child Protection Chief Executive Cathy Taylor

While this process may be difficult for some staff, the safety of children in residential care is paramount.

The Department is working alongside staff and the Public Service Association to address any concerns regarding the process of assessment and staff are encouraged to speak with their line managers or access the Employee Assistance Program for further support.
The Department aims to recruit and retain a workforce that keeps children safe and is psychologically equipped to work with children in care, and therefore the current psychological assessment for new applicants will be extended to all employees working in residential care.

I thank all Department for Child Protection staff for the work they do in supporting our most vulnerable children on a daily basis and I know their priority, like mine, is the safety of our children.

Quotes attributable Child Development Minister Susan Close

I have full confidence in Ms Taylor to run this department and make the best decisions on staff management.

I support her approach to increasing standards for testing the suitability of staff to work with children in residential care.

Everyone in South Australia wants to see the Government and its staff take the absolute best care of children who have been failed by their parents.

We must hold our staff to the highest standards in that care.