10 October 2018

We are pleased to jointly acknowledge the release of the report ‘NSW Ombudsman inquiry into the operation of the JIRT Program: The JIRT Partnership – 20 years on’ which the NSW Ombudsman tabled in Parliament on 5th October 2018.

We acknowledge the collaborative and considered approach taken by the Ombudsman in examining the evidence and preparing the report. The review highlights that our collaborative response to serious child abuse is one of the most significant interagency service delivery models in NSW.

Research commissioned by the Ombudsman for this report confirmed the ‘JIRT partnership is a highly sophisticated multi-disciplinary model for responding to child abuse, comparable to the international body of practice.’

We welcome and endorse the Ombudsman’s key findings and key recommendation that JIRT partner agencies (NSW Police, NSW Family and Community Services and NSW Health) continue to jointly deliver and strengthen the JIRT program.

In response to the report, the Secretary, NSW Family and Community Services, Commissioner of the NSW Police Force and the Secretary, NSW Health have agreed on a high level Statement of Intent to underpin this important partnership going forward. The Statement of Intent reaffirms key principles, objectives and core elements of the program and provides for stronger governance and accountability mechanisms, consistent with the report.

Acknowledging that the program has evolved over time, the three agency heads have also decided to rename the program as the Joint Child Protection Response Program. This new name reflects a clearer delineation of agency roles and responsibilities in matters of serious child abuse, while also emphasising the fact that the overall aim of this collaborative partnership is to protect child safety and wellbeing.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse recognised the significance of the NSW Ombudsman Inquiry and the importance of periodically reviewing multidisciplinary responses to child sexual abuse to ensure they remain effective. The NSW Ombudsman has similarly acknowledged that the success of the program is due in part to an ongoing process of review and reform, in response to the frequently changing context of its operation.

NSWPF State Crime Command's Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent John Kerlatec said: “Police are working hard to ensure a strong and coordinated effort to promote child safety and prevent abuse and neglect. Our combined efforts bring offenders to justice, ensuring the safety of the community.”

Michael Coutts-Trotter, Family and Community Services Secretary said: “We are committed to the safety and wellbeing of children and young people and protecting them from risk of serious harm and abuse. Working effectively with other agencies helps us keep children and young people safe.”

NSW Health Secretary Elizabeth Koff said: “This report acknowledges the ongoing commitment and contribution of frontline health staff to the care, wellbeing and protection of children and young people in New South Wales. The work our staff do is challenging and far-reaching.”

The three agencies wish to thank all staff for their ongoing commitment and contribution to the care and protection of children and vulnerable people in NSW.