Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Children and Youth Affairs

Tusla: Chairperson Designate

Photo of Tom NevilleTom Neville (Limerick County, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I am sorry for being late but I was tied up with something else. I have a couple of quick questions for Mr. Rabbitte. I agree with what he said about the change in culture. It takes years to build culture and one can break it in a day. One can build the culture of a company and then it can just go in an instant. However, that does not contradict what Mr. Rabbitte just said about building up a good culture again.

I was on the Committee on the Future of Mental Health Care and I have worked in IT. We are coming from the outside. I have come across what was said about Tusla in other organisations and I am aware of how electronic communication fosters accountability. With electronic communication there is always someone at the other end and he or she can be identified. I was surprised and shocked to hear there is no electronic communication in Tusla. That has been highlighted on the mental health side as well in terms of the operation of public service organisations. There is correlation there as well and, as Mr. Rabbitte said, there needs to be catch-up. Coming from the outside I cannot understand why the catch-up did not happen earlier. I do not want to go back over old ground but I think that is the reason there was a lot of surprise and shock that such electronic communication did not exist.

Where are we in terms of the introduction of electronic communication in the change management agenda and the implementation of new systems, in particular mobile systems for social workers that free up their work so that they can be front of house? There are also systems that would help the business function of Tusla and free up the time of senior management. What is the level of progress with the change management process? Are we 50% there or 70% there? What is the status of electronic integration with the Garda? Some of the examples that were highlighted related to a communications breakdown or mismanagement. I should choose my words carefully. There was a mismanagement of communications between both sectors. Electronic communication was not there so there was no record. Even basic emails can work. I asked Mr. Rabbitte's predecessor about email consultation. It is an electronic form of communication, as opposed to paper communication.

I want to put on record the good work done by social workers and those on the front line in Tusla. I want that message to go out. Sometimes, we can harp on about things and it is our job to try to identify problems and turn stones over to find out where we can improve the system, but the message must not supersede what the system is there to do in the first place, namely, to provide protection. It is imperative on us to get that message out into the public domain as well. I would appreciate if Mr. Rabbitte could answer my question on change management. I thank him for coming before the committee.