Raising the BARR – Week ending 30 October 2020

Never Been a More Important Time for Our Social Services

If anyone out there is coming to the end of their schooling or maybe looking for a career change (forced or voluntary) one industry that is desperate for more workers is the social services sector. This work might be helping families that are struggling with life’s challenges, it might be looking after young children that have been removed from a dangerous home life, it might be social work and mental health services, it might be disability work or it might be in the role of an ambulance officer or school teacher.

While the recent Federal Budget had a large focus on building new stuff, it was dramatically lacking in any real investment in the people of Australia. My fingers are crossed that the NSW State Budget (due in 2 weeks) will be more focused on the people than on bridges or tunnels.

Of all of the jobs that have disappeared since COVID turned our world upside down earlier this year, 68% of the jobs lost have been in roles typically staffed by women. In simple terms, that’s is 2 out every 3 jobs lost. This creates a whole host of socially un-even outcomes and we really, really, need to tackle this in the State Budget.

Please, don’t get too upset by the generalisations that I make in these comments. Yes, I know that thousands of men work in social services, but statistically, most workers are female. Equally, I know that thousands of women work in construction and mining, but most of the workers are men.

Unfortunately, over the next 12 months, we are expecting to see dozens of more people become homeless in our own local area, hundreds of our local families will likely see an increase in domestic violence, hundreds more children will be living in terribly unsafe situations in their own homes, the levels of mental stress right across our community will skyrocket and tragically our rates of suicide will spike.

It is a really important time to show kindness and compassion to our neighbours and to generally keep an eye out for families that are struggling. It is a really important time for our Governments to invest in the people. And it is a really important time for people to consider the incredibly important work of our social services as a possible career choice.

Kurri Kurri Rehabilitation Unit

Many people won’t even realise that at Kurri Kurri Hospital, on the grounds out the back, is one of the Hunters newest and best facilities. It is a Rehabilitation Unit that is basically able to take people that have been sick or injured, out of our hospitals, and help them with their recovery before sending them back to their homes or place of residence.

The Rehab Unit does brilliant work and makes sure that during recovery patients have the best possible access to physiotherapists, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, social workers etc. If you help people recover really well then it is highly likely that they will make a successful return to their homes.

There has been some real concern in the community about that lack of new patients coming into the Kurri Rehab Unit. People have been worried that it might close and become a white elephant. But as I write this column, I am extremely optimistic that the concerns of the doctors responsible for that unit will have been addressed and we will soon see that wonderful rehab facility operating at full capacity in the very near future.