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News : Average Wait Time to Report Abuse to Families SA Now 20 Minutes
Brisbane, Australia, July 24, 2015 -- The average waiting time to report a child abuse concern to the Families SA hotline has doubled in the past four years.
Education and Child Development Minister Susan Close revealed in a parliamentary estimates committee hearing today that the average wait time is now 20 minutes and 16 seconds.
That is up from 10 minutes and 46 seconds in 2011-12.
The wait time has grown despite an extra 10 staff employed in the Child Abuse Report Line (CARL) call centre recently.
Dr Close also confirmed the call centre does not offer a "call back" feature, where callers can leave their number and receive a return phone call at a later time, rather than remain on hold.
"There’s been a judgment that that’s not going to enhance the capacity to receive the (abuse concern) notifications," Dr Close said.
"We’ve been looking at the way CARL is operating and looking at ways in which we can improve it."
Opposition child protection spokeswoman Rachel Sanderson said constituents had complained to her about wait times much longer than 20 minutes.
"How many people hang up out of frustration because they’re waiting so long?" Ms Sanderson said.
"They’ve increased the staff by 10 while the (wait) time has increased — something’s going wrong."
Education and Child Development Department chief executive Tony Harrison also gave the committee an update on the recruitment of extra workers to Families SA.
Mr Harrison said the child protection agency had received 1300 applications for residential care and youth worker positions and 400 applications for social worker roles.
He said Families SA had formed "dedicated human resource project teams" to assess the applications.
"It is a very robust, intensive process now to consider suitability, including aspects of psychometric testing and interviews with organisational psychologists," he said.
Mr Harrison said Families SA had been filling existing vacancies since January and more than 100 new staff would be appointed in July, August and September.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Tuesday, July 28, 2015