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Children and young people in out-of-home care (OOHC) often have high and unmet health needs and are more disadvantaged and vulnerable than other children. NSW Health provides coordinated health assessments for children and young people aged 0 – 17 years in statutory OOHC living in NSW who are expected to remain in care for longer than 90 days.

Independent evaluation has demonstrated that the program improves access to early intervention and improves short- and long-term health, development and wellbeing.

How does the OOHC Health Pathway Program support the health of children and young people in out of home care?

Children and young people entering statutory OOHC are referred by the Department of Communities and Justice to commence a primary health assessment as soon as possible, ideally within 30 days of a child or young person entering care.

These assessments are undertaken by a range of health care providers, including General Practitioners, Aboriginal Medical Services, Child and Family Health Nurses, and headspace and Youth Health Services where available.

After the primary health assessment, the health professional may then refer the child or young person for a comprehensive multidisciplinary health assessment. On the basis of these assessments, each child or young person has a Health Management Plan developed for/with them. The Health Management Plan identifies their state of health, recommended interventions and appropriate review process.

The program supports young people as they plan to leave care, including supporting the young person to establish and maintain an ongoing relationship with a primary health care provider. As young people grow, we seek their consent for and encourage their participation in health care and planning.

The program is a collaboration between NSW Health, Department of Communities and Justice, OOHC service providers, Department of Education, carers, and children and young people themselves.

What can carers expect?

Carers will be contacted by a health staff member from the child or young person's local health district to organise a primary health assessment after the child/young person enters care.

Immediate medical concerns

The OOHC health assessments do not replace the services offered by a GP or emergency department. If a child or young person in your care is unwell or injured, and requires attention, please seek immediate medical attention.

Contact your local OOHC Health Pathway coordinator

Each local health district has an OOHC Health Pathway coordinator responsible for managing and coordinating referrals. The contact details for each local coordinator, and information about local programs, can be found below. To find out which local health district you live in, search for your closest town using this map locator .

Local health district
Coordinator Contact
Central Coast Jakii Kelman Phone: (02) 4367 9600
Email: cclhd-oohc@health.nsw.gov.au
Address: 169 The Entrance Road, Erina NSW 2250
Far West

Sharon Cameron

Phone: 08 8080 1100
Email: fwlhd-oohc@health.nsw.gov.au
Address: PO Box 457, Broken Hill NSW 2880

Hunter New England Ashley Owens Phone: (02) 4924 6484 and 0437 357 986
Email: hnelhd-oohcintake@health.nsw.gov.au
Address: Locked Bag 9783, Tamworth NEMSC 2348
Illawarra Shoalhaven Anna Meaker Phone: (02) 4224 2900
Email: islhd-oohc@health.nsw.gov.au
Address: 42a Porter Street, North Wollongong NSW 2500
Mid North Coast Gráinne Ducat Phone: (02) 6589 2578
Email: mnclhd-oohchealthadmin@health.nsw.gov.au
Address: PO Box 126, Port Macquarie NSW

Emily Doyle

Phone: 0467 746 798 or 0428 275 376
Email: mlhd-outofhomecare@health.nsw.gov.au
Address: Level 3, Wagga Wagga Health Services Hub, Corner Edward and Docker Streets, Wagga Wagga NSW 2650
Nepean Blue Mountains Jo-ann Buhler Phone: (02) 4730 5100
Email: nbmlhd-oohc@health.nsw.gov.au
Address: Cranebrook Community Health Centre, PO Box 29, Cranebrook NSW 2749
North Sydney Lisa Dubiez Phone: (02) 9462 9271
Email: nslhd-oohcintake@health.nsw.gov.au
Address: RNS Community Health Centre Level 2, 2C Herbert Street, St Leonards NSW 2065
Northern NSW Kate Dougherty Phone: (02) 6603 0922
Email: nnswlhd-outofhomecare@health.nsw.gov.au
Address: Yamba Community Health 3 Roberts Close, Yamba NSW 2464
South Eastern Sydney Cleo Lowden Phone: 0418 716 488
Email: seslhd-soohc@health.nsw.gov.au
Address: Caringbah Community Health Centre, Locked Bag 21, Taren Point NSW 2229
Southern NSW Courtney Namonye Phone: (02) 4825 4856
Email: snswlhd-oohc@health.nsw.gov.au
Address: PO Box 274, Goulburn NSW 2580
South Western Sydney Erin Nicoll Phone: (02) 4633 0578
Email: swslhd-oohchealthreferral@health.nsw.gov.au
Address: 59A Cumberland Road, Ingleburn NSW 2565
Sydney Cath Dunn and Rose Kassolis Phone: (02) 9378 1100
Email: slhd-oohcintake@health.nsw.gov.au
Address: Croydon Community Health Centre, 24 Liverpool Road, Croydon NSW 2132
Sydney Children's Hospitals Network  Jocelyne Noonan  Email: schn-outofhomecare@health.nsw.gov.au
Address: The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Locked Bag 4001, Westmead NSW 2145
Western NSW Helen Ferris Phone: 0419 512 858
Email: wnswlhd-outofhomecare@health.nsw.gov.au
Address: PO Box 4061, Dubbo NSW 2830
Western Sydney Katherine Deveney Phone: (02) 9881 1200
Email: wslhd-oohchealthassessments@health.nsw.gov.au
Address: Mt Druitt Community Health Services, Corner Buran and Kelly Close, Mt Druitt NSW 2770

OOHC Health Pathway Program evaluation

Two independent evaluations of the Out-of-Home Care Health Pathway Program have been completed. The first evaluation in 2014 found that the Program significantly improved access to health services for children and young people entering statutory (court ordered) out-of-home care. The 2014 evaluation also found that service providers and agencies reported that the program improved health outcomes for these children and young people.

The second evaluation, which concluded in 2022, examined the impact of increased Program funding that began in July 2019. The 2022 evaluation found that the additional funding led to program improvements, such as increases in the numbers of assessments and health management plans, and in the number of staff employed under the program. The 2022 evaluation report made 16 recommendations to improve the Program. Key Program partners met in November 2022 to identify priority recommendations and actions, which are now underway.

Current as at: Thursday 11 April 2024