Government Defends Street Team Cuts

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Minster for Family and Community Services Pru Goward defended the decision to close the Cabramatta Street team stating support was needed in other areas of Sydney during Budget Estimates on Monday.

“We felt, particularly when we looked at the very small number of children—young people, teenagers—that those two teams were dealing with, that it was important to expand the crisis youth response teams across the State.”

“With that in mind we have expanded the service around New South Wales and we now have the southwest youth team, which takes in the Cabramatta area but Cabramatta in a year only saw 74 young teenagers whereas Epping was hundreds; Bankstown and Liverpool were also hundreds each, so was important to ensure that all teenagers in New South Wales, not just a very few in two suburbs, were able to receive support when they needed it,” Ms Goward told the Parliamentary Committee.

The Cabramatta Street Team closed on June 30th. Chief Executive of Community Services, Maree Walk told the Committee that affected staff were transferred to similar positions and all clients from the Street Team are now supported by other non-government agencies and services as the “majority were not at risk of significant harm”.

“Twelve cases required absorbing, seven matters—that is five kids who were in out-of-home care and two child protection cases—went to Fairfield Community Services Centre and five other matters were absorbed by the metropolitan south-west child protection adolescent response team,” Ms Walk said.

Both the Minister and the Department said it was too early to draw any conclusion between the Street Team closure and the apparent suicide of a 14 year old girl last week at a Catholic Care hostel. The girl was previously managed by the Cabramatta Street Team before it closed.

“I do not think I can say it any more clearly, the people who were case managing her were case managing her right up until the moment of her death. I do not think we can be any
clearer about that. She had very intensive management compared to what a street team would have been able to give. All I can say again is you cannot draw a causal link between whoever was involved in this young woman’s life and her death. It is incredibly inappropriate for any agency to start to do that,” Ms Walk told the Committee.

Labor MP Guy Zangari told ABC News on Saturday, “We have a Government that today that has blood on its hands as a result of disbanding the Cabramatta Street Team” and was due to deliver a 3,000 signature petition to Parliament to reconsider the funding cuts.

Minster Goward citised the Opposition comments, “Imagine how your cheap political point-scoring makes her family feel? How do you think they feel having you drag this through the newspapers?”

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