Joshua Sherman says kids are at risk.
Joshua Sherman says kids are at risk.

Social workers fear fatigue puts kids at risk

CHILD Protection workers are being lumped with unreasonable workloads and inadequate support, a scathing report has found.

A report by Victoria's auditor-general said staff numbers needed to be doubled and $325 million was needed each year for the next four years to fix the problems, the ABC reports.

Joshua Sherman, an after-hours crisis worker based in Bendigo for Victoria's Child Protection service told the ABC's 7.30 he was risking his job by talking about the system's failings but felt he needed to speak out.

He said he got his own personal wake-up call that he was overworked when he fell asleep at the wheel after a particularly gruelling night at work.

"The children we visit often have such bad neglect or abuse issues, and it's not uncommon to be attacked by their parents," he told 7.30.

Mr Sherman told the ABC he is worried staff fatigue puts children at risk.

He often has to work 15 to 20-hour shifts, starting in the middle of the night.

Fellow Child Protection worker Daniel Wright echoed Mr Sherman's concerns, telling the ABC he often woke up at night "worrying about children I'm responsible for, because there just aren't enough hours in the day."

Daniel Wright says social workers are expected to be “super human”.
Daniel Wright says social workers are expected to be “super human”.

"The things we're asked to do are super human - to be able to work 16-hour shifts without a break, to drive 700-800km in a shift, and the sheer volume of tasks we're expected to do, it's not sustainable," he told 7.30. "I'm worried a child might die, or a worker might be fatally injured.

"It's a ticking clock."

Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) secretary Kym Peake told 7.30 she was aware there are problems.

"I accept more support is needed across the state for all of our workforce," she said.

"It does take time to bring a bigger workforce on deck. It does take time for the changes we're making to be felt by the workforce on the ground."

Ms Peake said she was confident that DHSS was on the right track and that "people will start to feel the changes in the months to come".