Kids @ Weldon, 23 Weldon Street, Burwood NSW 2134
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          Weldon Children’s Services

Phone: 02 9747 45 77

Fax: 02 9747 42 28

Child Protection Policy

 

There are approximately 56,000 – 60,000 substantiated cases of child abuse and neglect in Australia each year. Governments, organizations and communities all have a part to play in protecting our children from harm.

 

 

Mandatory Reporters

 

Certain groups of people know as “mandatory reporters” are required by law to report to the Department of Community Services, (DoCS) if, on reasonable grounds a child or young person is considered to be at risk of harm.  Risk of harm, under the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998  (NSW) section 23 means there are current concerns that exist for the safety, welfare or well-being of the child or young person because of the presence of any one or more of the following:

 

1. Physical or psychological needs are not or are at risk of not being met

2. The inability of caregivers or parents to arrange for the medical needs of the child or young person to be met

3. There is a risk of being physically or sexually abused or ill-treated

4. The home environment has had and holds the risk of domestic violence

5. The behaviour of parents or other caregivers is such that the child or young person is at risk of suffering serious psychological harm

 

All staff within the services of Kids@Weldon are all “Mandatory Reporters”.  Please note under section 27 of the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection)  Act 1998, where risk of harm to a child is suspected and not reported by Mandatory Reporters, the maximum penalty for a breach of this Act is a fine of 200 penalty units which is currently equal to $22,000.00.  Any staff member who fails to report any suspected risk of harm will be subject to disciplinary action.

 

To assist staff in recognising a risk of harm please see Appendix 1, Indicators of Abuse and Neglect for a comprehensive list of indicators.

 

Notifications are made to DoCS on “reasonable grounds”.  The term reasonable grounds refers to:

 

· The need for an objective basis to deduce a child is at risk of harm

· First hand observations of the child or family

· Photographs if available of injuries

·   A child’s, parents or another’s disclosure

· A  reasonable inference based on professional training and/or experience

 

A mandatory reporter does not need to confirm their suspicions.  Any staff member who fears there may be a risk of harm but is not confident in their ability to make an objective assessment is to refer the matter to a more senior staff member.  All services are to report to the Children’s Services Coordinator and General Manager for any matters involving a mandatory report to DoCS or any matters where a risk of harm may become a concern.

 

Reports made to the department concerning risk of harm are confidential. The identity of the reporter will not be revealed unless permission for this to occur is given or if a court directs the disclosure when it is crucial to the court proceedings.  The law protects those who, in good faith, report suspected child abuse from any civil action such as a defamation suit.  

 

 

Disclosures

 

Children and Young People

When a child or young person discloses, or tells a staff member about abuse staff are requested to respond in a calm manner.  Staff members responses are critical as a sense that the child is not believed will typically stop disclosure. Children will often remain quiet for years about abuse feeling helpless and hopeless in their situation.  Disclosures can happen by accident or a child may let others know in a disguised manner, E.g.

 

o “blurt out” a harmful experience or a fear of something

o confide in private

o tell another child

o provide hints such as drawings, in role play or through stories

o pose a “what if” or “friend of mine” scenarios

o present with somatic symptoms such as constantly feeling “sick”

 

What to do:

 

o find a place to talk

o for children with communication difficulties seek a trusted person who better understands the communications of the child if necessary

o listen and demonstrate that you are listening

o let the child tell their own story

o be open and do not judge

o be supportive

o reassure the child it is not their fault

 O tell them you know this happens to other children

o tell them they have done the right thing by coming to you

o tell them they have a right to be safe

 

What not to do:

 

§ show shock or disbelief

§ probe for more information

§ ask leading questions

§ investigate the allegations

§ make the child tell others

§ make promises not to tell anyone

 

Disclosure will have a significant impact on the child or young person.  They may feel shame, guilt and anxiety. Sometimes children and young people recant in the days following a disclosure.

 

All staff are to record as soon as is possible after the disclosure the date, time and comments made.  Exact words are best. Record the child’s mood or demeanor.  This information is to be communicated to the Helpline.

 

All staff are to advise the child or young person that a report has to be made to the Department of Community Services.  Staff are to take account of the child’s development and level of understanding in how they advise of the need to report to DoCS.  Staff may wish to advise the child or young person that DoCS will send out someone who is there to help them and knows about these situations.

 

 

Disclosures by a parent

 

When a parent or caregiver discloses that they have or fear they will harm a child or confides in a staff member that another family member or household member harms the child staff must remain objective and not judge the parent. Regardless of the parent’s remorse or any intentions to seek help staff must place the needs and welfare of the child first and consider the impact on the child of the risk of ongoing harm and the professional mandatory reporting obligations.

 

Information concerning staff mandatory reporting obligations are to be found in the staff and parents handbooks of all services.  When staff consider informing a parent of their obligations to report fact sheets from the Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies (ACWA) will assist.  Fact sheets are available in Appendix 3 Information sheet 1 and Appendix 2 Information sheet 3 or at  http://www.acwa.asn.au

 

Making a report

 

When making a report to DoCS relevant information will be required.

· name or description of child

· current whereabouts of the child

· if the risk is related to a staff member

· if known the name and address of the person suspected of abusing the child

· when the child was last seen

· whether an interpreter for sign or language or support person is required in relation to disability or aboriginality

· all available information

· your concerns regarding the risks

· any views the child might have expressed about the report (If known)

· historical information/current circumstances

· family/caregiver information

· Information about relationships between family members

· information about your role and relationship with the child

 

 

Reporting methods available are as follows:

 

Phone 13 3627 (13 DoCS) for mandatory reporters

132 111 for non mandatory reporters

Fax 9633 7666 for designated mandatory reporters using the designated Helpline fax form (see Appendix 4.)

TTY 9633 7698

 

 

Reporting by phone is preferred when an immediate response is required or there is a critical need for intervention, where information is complex and more easily communicated verbally or where the reporter is unsure about how to interpret the indicators of abuse or neglect and may need to talk through the information.

 

Child Protection is a fundamental principle governing the operations of children’s services.  For staff requiring further information each service is provided with a copy of the NSW Interagency Guidelines for Child Protection Intervention. Staff are requested to be familiar with this document.

 

Source acknowledgements

 

Department of Community Services

Advocates for the survivors of child abuse

NSW Interagency Guidelines for Child Protection Intervention

South Western Sydney Area Health Service

NSW Ombudsman

NAPCAN

Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies

Commission for Children and Young People

Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998

 

 

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