• Revelations of systemic problems in NT Families according to ABC news reports. (AAP)Source: AAP
Former child protection workers in the Northern Territory have slammed the Department of Child Protection for putting vulnerable children at risk by overloading them with work and creating a culture of unrealistic expectations.
Rangi Hirini

5 Apr 2018 - 9:40 AM  UPDATED 5 Apr 2018 - 1:44 PM

Explosive claims have been made by former Territory Families child protection workers who claim they were loaded up with as many as 100 cases ata  time and that vulnerable children were left in harm's way by the department.

The ABC spoke with many former Territory Families workers who claim they were bullied and harassed by senior workers during their time in the department and who described a "toxic" workplace with serious systemic issues.

The ABC also obtained two internal Government reviews, which were commissioned last year, into the department’s workplace culture. 

Aboriginal families in the Northern Territory have been under major scrutiny from mainstream media for failing to protect their own children.

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The new allegations add to growing calls for action on alleged child abuse in the Territory and departmental dysfunction. 

Sinem Ketenci, a former worker for the Territory Families Department, who previously worked within Indigenous communities in Canada and New Zealand, claimed her caseload increased from 20 children to 70 children within a matter of weeks.

"It's rushing through the child abuse investigations; obviously if you're rushing, you cannot provide the support the children and families need," she said.

Ms Ketenci said there are “systemic issues” in the Territory Families Department and this was the reason why the Department had to hire an independent company to investigate in-house building and workplace culture.

The independent review found child protection workers with caseloads of between 70 to 100 and were pressured by the department to close six cases a week.

“It was reported that there is management pressure to do six investigations per week, meaning workers can spend less than one day per client," the review found.

"This reduces the quality of outcomes and contributes to burnout."

A Territory Families spokesperson denied the allegations of a toxic workplace within the department. 

"Territory Families does not believe there is any workplace unit within the Agency that has a toxic work culture," the spokesperson told NITV News.

However, they did admit to working at reducing the caseloads and claimed the majority of their staff now have fewer than 30 cases.