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Kings Cross caseworkers walk out today

23 August 2012

Caseworkers at the specialist unit, the Kings Cross & Central Sydney Adolescent Unit , have walked of the job today.

"The NSW Public Service Association says the State Government will not guarantee future funding for this specialist team.

"In what we fear is a first step towards closing the Adolescent Unit, the Government is reviewing all funding, and it will not guarantee a stand-alone unit will continue operating at Kings Cross" says Steve Turner, PSA Assistant General Secretary.

"For 26 years, the team has reached out to tens of thousands of street kids and built a strong presence and invaluable relationships in the community.

"The closure of the Kings Cross Adolescent Unit would be a sign that the Government has given up on the serious issue of youth at risk or involved in drugs or prostitution at the Cross.

The members at the Adolescent Unit met the this morning to discuss the failure to guarantee funding and the continuation of the unit.

After receiving no guarantees, they walked out and rallied for about an hour outside the William Street Office, where they were joined by members of the Community Services departmental Committee and PSA staff.

The Kings Cross walkout was the fourth walkout in a fortnight. Previous walkouts were in Wollongong and Penrith and St Marys.

Background: Kings Cross Adolescent Unit

The Kings Cross and Central Sydney Adolescent Unit (KXCSAU) works closely with police, community agencies and NGOs to assist vulnerable teens and young people in the notorious crime and drug hotspot in and around Kings Cross.

It locates, engages and removes children and young people who are at risk, diverting them away from the high-risk environment of Kings Cross and helping them gain access to services.

The Public Service Association of NSW fears the Department of Community Services will close the Kings Cross Adolescent Unit, abandoning the high numbers of youth involved in drugs and prostitution around Kings Cross to the perils of street life.

All funding for the unit is currently under review and the Department will not guarantee a stand-alone unit will continue at Kings Cross.

Who they help

Outreach and intensive casework focusing on young people aged 12-18 years who self harm, are homeless or runaways, have substance abuse or mental health issues, involved in sex work or have disrupted education or a lack of parental supervision.

Since opening in 1986, this dedicated team of Community Services caseworkers has reached out to over 15,000 children and young people on the streets, helping get their lives back on track.

They make a difference

Laurie Matthews from Caretaker's Cottage Youth Refuge, a youth emergency accommodation service in Bondi Junction says:

"KXCSAU's at the front line and over the years it's developed a strong and trusted presence in the community. The unit has also moved with the times and adapted well to meeting the ever-changing and complex needs of youth on the streets."

Marian Booler, Manager Casework, has worked for KXCSAU since the beginning and says her team sticks with troubled kids and makes long-lasting change in their lives.

"Doing this job, you may not know the effect you have on a person's life straight away, but knowing your intervention makes them think and brings them around - that's important. It's because I know that some of the kids we followed up and supported in the early days went on to have great lives, that I'm still here now"

Both quotes from Community Services News, September 2011

Contact Details
Thane Pearce, Industrial Officer
Ph:  02 9220 0900

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