Keep Them Safe
The Mandatory Reporter Guide assists workers in determining the level of child protection risk and in what initial action to take.
Keep Them Safe: a shared approach to child wellbeing 2009-2014 is the whole of Government action plan aimed to improve the health, safety, welfare and wellbeing of children and young people in NSW. Keep Them Safe is the NSW Government's response to the Report of the Special Commission of Inquiry into Child Protection Services in NSW (November 2008).
The Government has decided to maintain its investment in reforms recommended by the Special Commission. This includes a commitment to a funding envelope for the Keep Them Safe reforms across the forward estimates. Funding for Keep Them Safe programs has been extended until 30 June 2016. The release of this funding is subject to any changes and improvements emanating from the Keep Them Safe Outcomes Evaluation as well as other cross agency work on child protection, prevention and early intervention. The evaluation is expected to be completed by June 2014 and the cross agency work by the end of this year. Both processes will inform Government decisions about the ongoing configuration of Keep Them Safe funding.
NSW Health has a key role in continuing to implement the Keep Them Safe reforms working collaboratively with our interagency partners in the shared system of child protection and wellbeing.
The protection and wellbeing of children and young people is core business for NSW Health. As health workers, we are uniquely placed to support families and communities and assist them to raise children in safe and nurturing environments.
The Child Wellbeing and Child Protection Policies and Procedures for NSW Health (PD2013_007) establishes the framework for NSW Health's reponse to child protection and wellbeing. This factsheet outlines the key obligations of NSW Health staff with regards child protection and wellbeing.
Use the links below to find out more about:
- Child Wellbeing Units and Child Wellbeing Co-ordinators
- Family Referral Services (FRS)
- Sustaining NSW Families
- Getting on Track in Time (Got It)
- Children Under Ten Sexualised Behaviour Program
- Enhancements to New Street Services
- Whole Family Teams (Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol
- Out of Home Care Health Assessments
- JIRT Referral Unit (JRU)
Child Wellbeing Units and Child Wellbeing Co-ordinators
Call 1300 480 420 to contact the NSW Health Child Wellbeing Unit:
For support and assistance in determining the level of risk of harm; and
How to respond to the needs of vulnerable children, young people, pregnant women and families.
After hours leave a message or use the After Hours Contact Form.
NSW Health Child Wellbeing services are provided by 3 Child Wellbeing Units as well as Local Health District based Child Wellbeing Coordinators. Child Wellbeing Units (CWUs) and Child Wellbeing Coordinators (CWCs) are funded to reshape health service responses to child protection, with an emphasis on prevention and early intervention. They work in collaboration with Child Wellbeing Units in Education and Police.
NSW Health Child Wellbeing Units are staffed by child protection professionals who provide telephone advice and support to Health mandatory reporters on a range of matters concerning the safety, welfare and wellbeing of children and young people. This role includes:
- assisting health workers to determine the suspected level of risk of harm and assisting in developing a plan to address any child wellbeing or child protection concerns
- advising whether there are current or past concerns recorded about a child or young person and/or whether other agencies or workers are known to be involved
- providing advice about referral pathways, information sharing and case co-ordination
- support Health Services in fulfilling their responsibilities in relation to recognising and responding to child safety, welfare and wellbeing concerns. This includes being available to consult with and provide advice and education to health managers and workers
- contribute to the development and maintenance of interagency partnerships and collaboration to address the needs of vulnerable children, young people and families
Child Wellbeing Coordinators contribute to building the capacity of the Local Health Districts/ Specialty Health Networks in how they respond to the needs of vulnerable children, young people and families, and address child protection reform goals in NSW. This includes being available to consult with and provide advice and education to health managers and workers.
Family Referral Services (FRS)
Eleven Family Referral Services are a whole of government Keep Them Safe initiative operating across NSW. They are delivered by NGOs under contract with NSW Kids and Families. Family Referral Services assist children and young people who do not meet the statutory threshold for child protection intervention but would benefit from accessing support to address current problems and prevent escalation. FRS provide information and link vulnerable children young people and their families to a range of local support services to address their needs including case management, intensive family support, housing, parenting education, supported play-group, drug and alcohol / mental health services, youth support services and respite care. FRS also have a role in improving the knowledge of service providers about local support services in their catchment area, and strengthening coordination and collaboration.
Sustaining NSW Families
Keep Them Safe funding has enabled NSW Health to establish sustained health home visiting (SHHV) in five sites across the State - Fairfield/Liverpool, Cessnock/Kurri Kurri/Maitland, Wyong, Kyogle/Lismore/Richmond Valley (Aboriginal focus) and Arncliffe (multicultural focus). Known as "Sustaining NSW Families", this is a critically important targeted intervention for vulnerable families expecting a baby with predictive psychosocial risk factors which may impact on child safety, health and development. It involves a structured program of nurse home visiting and parenting education up until the infant turns two. SNF service delivery is embedded into universal child and family health services offered by each LHD at each of the five sites.
Got It! is a school-based early intervention mental health program for children who display disruptive behaviours. The program aims to reduce the frequency and severity of conduct problems in young children between the ages of 5-8 years old and to improve schools and parents capacity to respond to children with conduct related problems. Got It! is a short term, multi level program delivered in selected schools over two consecutive terms for children in Kindergarten to Year 2 and their parents/carers. Screening and assessment is completed in the first term and evidence informed clinical group interventions for children and parents/carers are provided in the second term by specialist multidisciplinary Got It! teams. Led by NSW Health in partnership with the NSW Department of Education and Communities the program also includes related professional development for school staff.
Providing a service to children under ten who present with problematic or harmful sexualised behaviour (and their caregivers), is considered core business across the NSW Health children’s counselling services within existing frameworks. The Education Centre Against Violence provides training and a practice forum to Local Health Services in working with this target group.
A specialised program, the Sexualised Behaviour (under tens) Program or the ‘Sparks Clinic’ based in the Hunter New England Local Health District provides clinical intervention in the Greater Newcastle area to children under ten who present with problematic or harmful sexualised behaviour (and their caregivers). The Sparks Clinic received funding from NSW Health under the Keep Them Safe reforms to enhance their service. This program aims to strategically transfer knowledge and capacity to broader health workforces.
New Street Services operate in four sites in the Western Sydney, Hunter New England and Western New South Wales Local Health Districts. New Street Services provide therapeutic services to children and young people aged 10-17 years who have engaged in sexually harmful behaviours towards others. The Keep Them Safe (KTS) enhancements provide greater geographic coverage for existing services, establishment of two new sites in Newcastle and Dubbo and funding for Aboriginal identified positions to enhance the support given to Aboriginal children and young people.
Whole Family Teams (Drug & Alcohol and Mental Health) have been established in Gosford, Newcastle, Nowra and Lismore. These teams provide specialisttertiary health services for families where there are drug & alcohol and/or mental health problems and child protection concerns. Referrals are primarily from Community Services Centres, for families where there has been a substantiated Risk of Significant Harm Report (ROSH). Forty specialist clinical staff are currently employed under WFT funding and provide services to over 250 highly complex and vulnerable families per year, who require intensive coordinated care.
NSW Health provides health assessments, reviews and interventions for approximately 1870 children and young people who enter statutory out of home care (OOHC) each year. This is a critical health intervention for children in OOHC who have significant health care needs including poor mental and physical health compared with the general population. Health assessment services are provided through Local Health Districts / Specialty Networks upon referral from Community Services.
The Joint Investigation Response Teams (JIRT) Referral Unit (JRU) is a State-wide centralised intake service, responding to reports of sexual abuse and serious physical abuse & neglect of children and young people. It is located at Lakemba and is comprised of; Community Services, NSW Health and NSW Police.
The overall purpose of the JRU is to ensure that reports to Community Services of risk of significant harm to children and young people in NSW, that require a child protection response and that may require a health and criminal justice response, are jointly and consistently assessed for a response by the three JIRT partner agencies, according to the JIRT criteria.
Along with decision making with regard to investigation and assessment, the NSW Health role in JIRT, involves arranging services to respond to the medical and psychosocial support needs of the children, young people and their families as early as possible after abuse or neglect has been reported.