Thursday, November 29, 2007

The State We Are In... And How It Got This Way.

The New South Wales Auditor General’s annual report is an epic filled with one disaterous chapter after another. From transport to policing, the report is packed with pages of evidence of how the New South Wales Government is failing us all. The Sydney ferry service is a laughing stock and the punchline is that the government’s proposed method of fixing it is to sell it. The Auditor General wonders about the $65 million that appears to have been wasted on the T-card fiasco, and so do the customers of public transport in Sydney who still have a reliable excuse for being late for work. The police service fails its performance comparison to other states, with the rate of investigations completed within 30 days falling below the national average. And so on.

Chief among the disasters is the report on the performance of the Department Of Community Services. DOCS has been in the headlines far too many times in the last few months for all the wrong reasons. There have been high profile cases of child deaths where it was later revealed that the children in question have been known to the department for a considerable time. Now we know part of the reason DOCS seems to be unable to function effectively.

The actual funding provided to the department on a per case basis has halved since 2002. Five years ago the figure was $2671 per notification. Today that figure is $1383. Apparently that is the value of a child’s safety from the point of view of the New South Wales Government.

With that as a starting point it becomes clearer as to why so many children seem to be falling through the system that is supposed to provide a safety net for them. There is obviously a whole range of factors affecting the level of performance, but without proper funding we are starting from behind the eightball.

The worst of it is that the situation pertaining to DOCS seems to be representative of government as a whole in New South Wales. Whether it’s health, education, policing, or public transport, there just isn’t enough funding getting through to the coalface, while somehow billions of dollars disappear into the bureaucracy.

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