FAMILY and Community Services (FACS) caseworkers have been frustrated by the roll-out of a new software system which is apparently losing “records of children”.
Workers protested outside their Tamworth office on Thursday and have threatened to stage more lunch-time walk-offs until the government fixes the system.
“They’ve got a new computerised system (ChildStory) put in place that’s not fit for purpose, it’s losing records, it’s making their jobs incredibly difficult,” Public Service Association (PSA) organiser Stephen Meares said.
“A lot of records of children are being lost.”
Mr Meares said the union had been pleading with the government since August last year, but their protests have fallen “upon deaf ears”.
“They can type up work this morning and it’s lost by lunch-time, they’re not able to transition records from their previous system,” he said.
The PSA was also calling for more staff to be taken off “front-line work” and focus on training colleagues in the system.
“We’re asking for 15 extra people to be taken off front line work, which is counterproductive I know, but to get the system up and running and the staff trained, that is what is required,” he said.
“The staff are incredibly dedicated to their work, it’s extremely serious work they do, so they don’t want to walk off the job as such and go on strike.”
Similar protests have been staged around the state in recent weeks.
A FACS spokesperson refuted claims the system was riddled with errors and at no point “was any child at risk”.
“The department is committed to acknowledging problems in order to fix them,” the spokesperson said.
“But it’s just as important to be accurate about those problems and not to overstate them.
“The transition to the new system has been a complex process but FACS is absolutely confident that ChildStory is significantly better than the system it replaces.
The spokesperson acknowledged the “change has caused frustration”.
“The launch of ChildStory has changed the way many FACS staff work, and has involved data migration of over 20 years’ of information from a legacy system,” the spokesperson said.
“We have heard what people have to say about ChildStory and we are responding to their concerns.
“Feedback from staff using the system is being prioritised for weekly updates by the program team.”