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Who do I contact if my child is sick or injured?

In an emergency, telephone 000 for an ambulance.

If it's not an emergency, but you need health advice, call Healthdirect on 1800 022 222 and speak to a registered nurse. They will give you expert advice on how to manage your condition at home. Healthdirect is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Information on poisonous substances is available from the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26.

For non-urgent illnesses or health concerns, speak to your general practitioner or Child and Family Health Nurse.

What services do Child and Family Health Services provide?

Health professionals including registered nurses who specialise in Child and Family Health work in these centres. Your Child and Family Health Nurse can give you information about how to care for babies and young children, including information on:

  • breastfeeding
  • coping with sleeping and crying
  • your baby's growth and development
  • immunisation
  • safety
  • playing with your baby or toddler
  • your own wellbeing.

If you have any concerns about your baby, your small child, yourself or your family, the Child and Family Health Nurse can help. You may be offered services that visit you at home, or be asked to come to the Child and Family Health Centre or Community Health Centre

What if I can't speak English?

The hospital where you had your baby can organise an interpreter for your first contact with the Child and Family Health Centre. At your first visit, the Child and Family Health Nurse will arrange an interpreter for your next appointment. You can ring the Telephone Interpreter Service (TIS) if you need to contact the Child and Family Health Centre.

Where will the first appointment be?

Many families like the nurse to visit them at home for their first appointment - it can be difficult to get out of the house if you have a new baby.

Child and Family Health Centres offer home visits. The Child and Family Health Nurse will ask you to choose where you would like to have your first appointment.

What is the Personal Health Record (blue book)?

Your child's Personal Health Record (sometimes called the "Blue Book") is given to you in hospital when you've had your baby. You, your Child and Family Health Nurse, your doctor, and any other health professional your child sees, should make notes about your child's health and progress in the Blue Book.

What do I need to do to prepare for my appointments?

Before many of the health checks recommended in the Blue Book is a set of questions for parents. You should make time to read and think about these questions before the check, and discuss any concerns you have with your Child and Family Health Nurse or doctor.

Why do I need the Child and Family Health Service if my child is well?

It's better to prevent problems with regular checks rather than have to get help once the problem has started. The nurse will also help you plan for the next stage in your baby's development - for example, what to expect when you start feeding solid foods. Nurses in Child and Family Health Centres also help you to anticipate the next set of skills your baby will develop, and offer you guidance to make the necessary changes to keep your home a safe and stimulating place for your growing child.

The nurse will also be able to listen to any concerns you might have about your baby or yourself.

Why are child health checks important?

Health checks are used to monitor how your child is growing and to check whether certain conditions are present so they can be treated. Your Child and Family Health Nurse or doctor will check your child's hearing, vision, development, height, weight and head circumference, and will be happy to discuss the results with you (see "Blue Book").

When should children be checked?

Children’s health and development should be checked at:

  • birth
  • 1 to 4 weeks
  • 6 to 8 weeks
  • 6 months
  • 18 months
  • 2 years
  • 3 years
  • 4 years.

Be sure to take your child to visit your nurse or doctor at these ages. Some children may also need additional visits (see "Blue Book").

Why not just take my child to the doctor?

It's important to have a family doctor to take your child to, but you should also see your Child and Family Health Nurse for regular health checks for your child.

The general practitioner or family doctor is the person to see if you have any concerns about your child's health or if your child is sick. The doctor provides primary health care, referrals to specialists and, where necessary, coordinates your child's health care (see "Blue Book").

The Child and Family Health Nurse provides a free community health service offering health and developmental checks for your child as well as support, education and information on all aspects of parenting. The nurse can also:

  • provide support if you're breastfeeding
  • tell you about other services in your local area
  • let you know about any groups for parents speaking your principal language.

What is the role of Child and Family Health Nurses?

The Child and Family Health Nurse provides a free community health service offering health checks for your child as well as support, education and information on all aspects of parenting.

What is the role of my local general practitioner/ family doctor for my child?

The general practitioner or family doctor is the person to see if you have any concerns about your child's health or if your child is sick. The doctor provides primary health care, referrals to specialists and, where necessary, coordinates your child's health care (see "Blue Book").

What is the role of the paediatrician?

The paediatrician provides specialist health care for your child. You need a referral from a GP for an appointment (see "Blue Book").

How do I contact the Child and Family Health Centre?

The staff at the hospital where you have your baby will ask you which centre you would like to visit. They will make sure you have all the information you need to contact the centre before you go home. You can access a directory listing of the NSW Child and Family Health Nursing Services. You can also find Child and Family Health Centres listed in the phone book under Early Childhood Health Centres or Community Health Centres.

What are Family Care Cottages/Centres?

Family Care Centres are staffed by Child and Family Health Nurses, mothercraft nurses and social workers/ psychologists. They provide more intensive support and advice to families with children 0-5 years of age than the general Child and Family Health Services. Family Care Centres deal with management problems, such as feeding, sleeping and settling, behavioural problems, psychosocial problems and parenting adjustment issues. These centres provide assessment and short-term intervention and management. Parents may be referred by general practitioners, Child and Family Health Nurses, social workers, hospitals. Problems not able to be resolved at this level may be referred to the next level of service - residential family care services.

What are residential family care services?

These services are provided by Tresillian and Karitane. They are tertiary referral services providing intensive specialist support and care for complex parenting issues. A referral from a health professional is required for admission to a residential family care unit. These services are staffed by specially trained registered nurses, mothercraft nurses, social workers, psychologists and are supported by paediatricians and psychiatrists. Parents live in for up to a week for help with babies who are unsettled, crying excessively, having difficulty feeding, toddlers with challenging behaviours, parents who have depression associated with the transition to parenthood, or complex psychosocial issues which are affecting the family unit. There are special units for toddler management and advice.

Tresillian and Karitane offer a range of services including day-stay services, outreach services, group programs, home visiting, 24-hour crisis telephone services and education programs.

What services do children's hospitals provide?

A range of services are provided by children's hospitals including:

  • emergency departments
  • specialised inpatient care
  • ambulatory care and rehabilitation services for children with acute illness, chronic illness and disability, as well as
  • support services for their families.

The children's hospitals also provide both undergraduate and postgraduate training for medical, nursing and allied health staff and undertake research. They are affiliated with university training and research programs.

The three children's hospitals in NSW are:

  • The Children's Hospital at Westmead
  • Sydney Children's Hospital (Randwick)
  • John Hunter Children's Hospital (Newcastle)

Most of the children's hospitals have accommodation for parents, designated play areas with play specialists for the children and school services for children in hospital provided by the Department of Education and Training.

Do all hospitals have facilities to cater for children?

The majority of hospitals have a children's ward catering for their local population. There are Guidelines for the Hospitalisation of Children aimed at achieving the best possible paediatric care in all parts of NSW.

Why is immunisation important?

Immunisation protects children against many serious diseases which continue to be present in the community and from which children are still suffering and dying unnecessarily.

Immunisations are available from your local doctor, local council, local hospitals, some community health centres and Child and Family Health Centres.

For more information visit NSW Health - Immunisation.

Where do I get information about adoption?

For any information relating to adoption contact the Department of Family and Community Services. Or you can contact them by telephone on (02)8855 4900.

I have concerns about feeding my baby or child. Where can I go for help?

For information about feeding your baby consult your local Child and Family Health Centre or your general practitioner (family doctor).

Where can I get written information about childhood illnesses?

To obtain any information about childhood illnesses contact your local general practitioner or one of the Children's Hospitals.

You can also find a lot of useful information about children and parenting at the Australian Government's Raising Children website.

What is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome?

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the most common cause of death in the first year of life. The cause of SIDS is still unknown. However we do know about risk factors. To reduce the risk of SIDS:

  1. put baby on back to sleep from birth
  2. sleep baby with face uncovered
  3. cigarette smoke is bad for baby
  4. have a safe cot, safe mattress, safe bedding and safe sleeping environment for baby night and day.

For more information please visit Red Nose (former SIDS and Kids).

Who should child care centres notify about outbreaks of infectious diseases?

Child care workers are required to notify their local public health unit if there is an outbreak of some infectious diseases. Public health units are listed on the NSW Health Website. The diseases which are notifiable are defined in the Public Health Act, and listed in Notification of Infectious Diseases under the NSW Public Health Act 2010 (IB2013_010).

Where can I get advice on how infectious diseases should be managed in child care?

The National Health and Medical Research Council publication Staying Healthy in Child Care: Preventing infectious diseases in child care 5th edition is a good resource for people seeking information on preventing and managing infectious diseases in child care.

Page Updated: Wednesday 22 August 2018
Contact page owner: Maternity, Child and Family