NSW child protection system 'ineffective'

Roje Adaimy
There are calls for NSW Families minister Pru Goward to be stood aside after a damning report

NSW's child protection system has been labelled "ineffective and unsustainable" in a damning report that has been kept under wraps for nearly two years.

The independent review into out-of-home care was commissioned by the state government in November 2015 but was only made public on Tuesday following pressure from parliament.

Author David Tune found the number of children and young people in the system had doubled over the past 10 years and continues to increase, despite numerous reports and a significant increase in government funding over a long period of time.

"Moreover, the system is failing to improve long-term outcomes for children and to arrest the devastating cycles of intergenerational abuse and neglect," he said in the report.

The former senior public servant was critical of the way money was being spent by government - on programs within different agencies that made it difficult for people to navigate and access.

Interventions were "not adequately evidence based", often inflexible and didn't recognise the specific concerns of vulnerable children and families.

"The problems are complex, entrenched and will not be addressed adequately through a program by program approach," Mr Tune wrote.

The report has recommended the creation of a new statutory authority to provide "personalised support packages" for vulnerable children and their parents.

The NSW Family Investment Commission would help co-ordinate funding and drive reform, reporting directly to a minister.

The NSW opposition is calling for Family and Community Services Minister Pru Goward to be stood aside to investigate why she refused to make the report public for more than 18 months.

"Why did the government use taxpayers' funds to commission a report into a broken child protection system only to do everything possible to bury the findings?" Labor's families spokeswoman Tania Mihailuk said in a statement.

"It's grossly irresponsible and the minister should be stood aside."

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the decision not to release the report earlier was something she was "happy to revisit", acknowledging it was an important piece of work that had informed government policy.

The government had taken a number of steps to address the issue since receiving the report, she said.

"We've been acting on it," she told reporters in Sydney.

"Our state is leading the nation in providing permanent, stable homes for children from vulnerable backgrounds and that's something we're proud of.

"Can we do more? Of course. Should we be doing more? Of course."