Organisations helping NZ's most vulnerable on the brink of closure as they struggle to recruit social workers

Source: 1News

Organisations that are helping the country’s most vulnerable communities are on the brink of shutting their doors, as they struggle to recruit social workers.

The sector is desperate for help with vacancies after jobs are left advertised for months on end.

Anglican Trust for Women and Children (AWTC) is one of Auckland’s oldest charities but over the last year, 25 social workers have left – over a quarter of their social workers.

AWTC has told 1 NEWS it’s struggling to hire more as at times, applicants accept the job only to pull out weeks before starting.

“We’re now having to go back two times, three times, to re-advertise because we’re not getting the right match for our families,” said Judy Mataia, AWTC chief executive.

Birthright Hawke’s Bay says it’s facing similar problems, with seven vacancies still open out of 17 staff.

The group says two jobs have been advertised for more than six months.

Its chief executive Andy Pilbrow told 1 NEWS they’ve had to close referrals multiple times over the past year.

“It's all to do with money. If we can pay our social workers better, or at least a respectable wage, then they'll stay,” he said.

A recent pay increase in December means Government social workers get over 30 per cent more than their non-Government counterparts, who are going through a pay equity process of their own.

However, the Social Services Providers Association (SSPA) says process is lengthy and organisations can’t cope for long amounts of time.

“I believe the government when they say they are committed to child wellbeing, but we need tangible proof of that,” says chief executive Brenda Pilott.

Ms Pilot says she hopes to see at least $300 million dedicated to the sector in the Government's annual Budget in May.

The Government won’t comment on Budget announcements but according to Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni, several chief executives in the sector are working on a plan to better fund services.