The union representing child safety staff hopes a new state government $10,000-a-year bonus payment will help clear up the state's worst staffing shortage.
Public Service Association regional organiser Stephen Mears said the state government would offer the payment to any child safety caseworker who moved into the New England area.
The region was the most understaffed in the state, according to statistics shared in December 2020.
He said incentive payments had "seemed to work in the past".
"From our perspective it seemed to work. and from those staff coming out to the regions, our belief, or our members believe, that a significant number of hem stayed after that period," he said.
Mr Mears said understaffing, and the related problem of overwork, is "the biggest issue" for child safety workers in the region.
The state government will pay any child safety caseworkers who move a $10,000 payment on their first three anniversaries of taking up a job in the region.
The Department of Communities and Justice will also reimburse moving costs.
Minister for Families Alister Henskens said the government want more caseworkers to move to rural and regional areas.
"Caseworkers are a pivotal part of our child protection system, delivering crucial services and support to vulnerable children and families," he said.
There are 2,333 full time equivalent caseworkers in NSW. Though there is a state-wide net vacancy rate of zero per cent, many jobs are unfilled in the New England.
Mr Mears said child safety officials at a local level are working with the University of New England to develop opportunities for locals to get trained up in the sector.
"TI know the director in Tamworth has been speaking with UNE about some form of joint partnership of some sort. That's another step; getting more local people trained up so that we don't have to continually bring people in from outside," he said.
The New England region's vacancy rate of 22 per cent is the state's highest.
The region is well below its authorised strength of 123 caseworkers, and as a result has a high employment turnover rate.
Mr Mears said that about half of the staff that did work in the New England were in training, which puts a burden on qualified staff. And the problem has the potential to get worse if overwork drives the experienced staff away, creating an even bigger overwork problem, he said.
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