Podcast episode 9: What’s wrong with child protection policy and practice? an interview with social worker, Tony Tonkin, founder of the Child Protection Party

podcts whit text psdTony Tonkin is the founder of the Child Protection Party in South Australia.  the Party is about to go national. We talk about the party and its purpose- but this is also a deeply personal interview.

Tony came to social work later in life. It gave him a sense of purpose that had previously been missing. After volunteering at Lifeline, he began studying social work and developed a passion for  therapeutic work. Studying social work changed his values profoundly. He got a job counselling gamblers and began to understand the the interplay of social forces that created the preconditions for addiction, depression, anxiety, child abuse and domestic violence.

As he developed his knowledge and skills he began to work more creatively and wholistically with a range of NGO’s, including confronting men around violence and abusive behaviour.

In the course of his practice he became very concerned about punitive practices in child protection which he felt did not uphold human dignity, or work for the best interests of children. This led him to systemic advocacy work in an effort to correct these abuses.

Our conversation explores the causes of child abuse and the effectiveness of prevention policies. We tease out some important questions. How much power or influence does the state have in preventing child abuse? When things go wrong, what is the balance between blaming individual workers versus cultures and systems? How much responsibility do we have to call out unethical practices in institutions? Given the truckloads of investigations, reports, and commissions that point to remedies to improve child protection, why do we see so little change?

For more information on the Child Protection Party- check out their website.

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One Response to Podcast episode 9: What’s wrong with child protection policy and practice? an interview with social worker, Tony Tonkin, founder of the Child Protection Party

  1. Troy Peverall says:

    I’m of the opinion that until Australia adopts a Staged Aproach to Early Intervention in Child Protection things will not improve……

    I noted it interesting that an Early Intervention approach to Child Protection did not get a mentioned in the April 2018 AASW: Australian Social Work Journal which was a Special Issue on Child Protection and Domestic Violence.

    I actually led a pioneering Early Intervention Service in the London Borough of Croydon, during the 2011 London Riots & while the Council was in the process of a 3 tiered restructure and 5000 of Croydon Councils 10,000 staff lost their jobs or were redeployed.

    Our Early Intervention & Family Support Service became a integral part of changing the way we worked with families in response to the recommendations of The Munro Report after the death of baby P was found to be big failure on the part of professionals not effectively sharing information/intelligence and not working in partnership with agencies or the families in need themselves.

    We hit the ground running & formed strong partnerships with Schools, Police, Health services & liased closely with Child Protection (Social Care) and the newly formed Family Resilience Service (FRS). We introduced the Multi-agency Safeguarding Hubs throughout the borough (MASH) and Multi-Agency Complex Case Panels where cases could be discussed & stepped up or stepped down from Child Protection sharing information & working together to identify and manage risk before it became a Child Protection issue…..

    The intergration & effective use of the (CAF) Common Assessment Framework together with the success of introducing a Staged Approach to Early Intervention in Child Protection resulted in a significant amount of Chid Protection Referals & much fewer Section 47 being sanctioned, therefore children were where they should be, with their family who were receiving the appropriate & timely support rather than waiting for crisis to escalate & Child Protection Intervention….

    I am to this day incredibly proud of my team during at that time of civil unrest & rapid changes in the organisations structure, we even received a Certificate of appreciation from the Mayor of London Boris Johnson for our efforts which really validated the positive contribution we had made to protecting children and supporting families in need.

    Early Intervention is always the best prevention…….

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