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Strengthen guidelines around Child Protection in family violence matters


Who is leading the change

  • Department of Health and Human Services

The Department of Health and Human Services develop and strengthen practice guidelines and if necessary propose legislative amendments to require Child Protection—in cases where family violence is indicated in reports to Child Protection and is investigated but the statutory threshold for protective intervention is not met to:

  • ensure the preparation of a comprehensive and robust safety plan, either by Child Protection or by a specialist family violence service
  • make formal referrals for families to relevant services—including specialist family violence services, family and child services, perpetrator interventions, and the recommended Support and Safety Hubs, once established
  • make formal referrals for children and young people to specialist services—including counselling services—if children or young people are affected by family violence or use violence
  • Recognising that reports to child protection are often associated with family violence, the Child Protection Family Violence Steering Committee (the Steering Committee) has been established. Its role is to drive the implementation of Recommendations 25, 26 and 27 and to provide advice on other recommendations relating to child protection practice and systems. The Steering Committee has been meeting since August 2016 and includes representatives from across government, the family violence sector, family services and Aboriginal services.

  • Under the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005, a case plan must be developed for the child where protective concerns have been substantiated, including cases involving family violence. This applies even when a decision has been made that no further child protection involvement is needed. The case plan includes all significant decisions relating to the child’s safety and wellbeing. Goals and actions are developed with the family and young person to implement the case plan. With regard to those cases that are not substantiated, further reform (such as the implementation of the Support and Safety Hubs and the Family Violence Risk Assessment and Management Framework) will ensure that these cases are referred for appropriate support and follow up for both women and their children.

    Building on these legislative reforms, and advised by the Steering Committee, new child protection practice advice and procedures have been developed and publisher in order to strengthen statutory case planning where a family is experiencing family violence. Practitioners are required to consider family violence as part of child protection risk assessments with all relevant family members and develop strong safety plans that include appropriate referrals to services.

    Advice and information on making referrals to services has been updated for the child protection workforce to ensure practitioners have up-to-date information on available services and programs for families who have experienced family violence. These changes will improve the child protection system's response to families experiencing family violence and help families get the support they need to keep children safe.

    Implementation of the new practice advice and procedures will be supported by the Family Violence Child Protection Partnership, which co-locates 17 specialist family violence workers in child protection area offices across the state, and the newly appointed Statewide Family Violence Principal Practitioner in the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Professional Practice. These factors will jointly improve the way child protection practitioners undertake family violence risk assessments and safety planning, and the way in which they make referrals to services.

    This work is tied to the redevelopment of the Family Violence Risk Assessment and Risk Management Framework (the Framework) outlined in Recommendation 1. Operational practice guides will be aligned to the Framework and will help workers across the system understand their roles and responsibilities in identifying, assessing and managing family violence. Guidance for child protection practitioners will also be covered, including situations where family violence is present but the statutory threshold for child protection intervention is not met. This approach acknowledges that child protection practice will evolve as the Framework, as well as other reforms including the Support and Safety Hubs and reform of the child and family services system, are implemented.

    The 2017–18 State Budget has provided funding to increase the capacity of the child protection system, with 450 new practitioners, and the family services system. In addition, the range of supports available will offer more families intensive assistance.

  • Implemented.

Reviewed 17 May 2020

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