What is the role of NSW Health workers in the NSW child protection system?
All NSW Health workers must promote the health, safety, welfare and wellbeing of children and young people in collaboration with interagency and non-government organisation (NGO) partners.
The continuum of NSW Health services across primary, secondary and tertiary care offers many opportunities to identify children and young people at risk and assist vulnerable parents/carers to access appropriate support to provide safe and nurturing environments for their children.
Health workers are uniquely placed to identify and respond to risk factors for child abuse and neglect to improve health and wellbeing outcomes. Where a child or young person is at risk of significant harm NSW Health workers must respond. This includes making a report to the NSW Child Protection Helpline.
What are your responsibilities?
- signs of possible child abuse, neglect, family violence and prenatal harm
- adult health issues that may affect parenting capacity.
- with your colleagues or manager
- the online NSW Mandatory Reporter Guide (MRG) to inform initial decision making
- with the NSW Health Child Wellbeing Unit (CWU) for further advice - 1300 480 420 (8.30am to 5.00pm, Monday to Friday or leave a message if after hours).
- continuing to provide health services and working with the family where concerns exist
- contacting other professionals working with the child, young person or family in line with information sharing requirements detailed in Section 6 of PD2013_007 Child Wellbeing and Child Protection Policies and Procedures for NSW Health See also My Health Learning online module: ‘Sharing Information to Support and Protect Vulnerable Children and Young People’
- reporting suspected Risk of Significant Harm to the Child Protection Helpline 132 111 (24/7) or eReport via the online MRG
- speaking to the NSW Health Child Wellbeing Unit about intervention and/or referral options - 1300 480 420 (8.30am to 5.00pm, Monday to Friday). After hours leave a message or eReport wellbeing concerns to the CWU via the online Mandatory Reporter Guide).
Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998
- Collaborate with interagency and NGO partners and comply with information exchange provisions to promote the safety, welfare and wellbeing of children and young people, including taking reasonable steps to coordinate the provision of services with other agencies
- Meet requirements for mandatory reporting of children and reporting of young people (or classes/groups of children or young people) at suspected risk of significant harm (ROSH)
- Report unborn children where it is suspected they may be at ROSH upon birth
- Continue to provide health care to children, young people and their families after reporting concerns to Community Services or to the NSW Health Child Wellbeing Unit
- Respond to Community Services’ and Children’s Court requests to provide health services
- Respond to Community Services and Police Force requests to provide medical examinations and treatment
- Assist in Children’s Court proceedings when required
Commission for Children and Young People Act 1998 and Child Protection (Working with Children) Act 2012
Meet requirements for Working with Children Check.
Ombudsman Act 1974
Maintain systems to prevent ‘reportable conduct’ by health workers and for reporting and responding to alleged reportable conduct involving NSW Health employees.
The online Mandatory Reporter Guide (MRG)
guides decision making about the level of risk to a child young person or unborn child and what initial action to take. This includes whether or not a child protection report is required.
Contact the Community Services Child Protection Helpline to report a child or young person suspected to be at Risk of Significant Harm on 132 111 (24 hours/7 days) or, where risks are not imminent, you can eReport via the online MRG.
Contact the NSW Health Child Wellbeing Unit
on 1300 480 420 for assistance in determining the level of risk of harm, planning next steps and responding to the needs of vulnerable children, young people, pregnant women and families. After hours leave a message or eReport via the online MRG.
Tertiary Child Protection Service in your Children’s Healthcare Network
Call for clinical advice (24 hours/7 days), if not available locally, for responding to any form of child abuse or neglect:
- Southern Children’s Healthcare Network - call the Sydney Children’s Hospital Randwick, Child Protection Unit on 9382 1412 or after hours on 9382 1111
- Western Children’s Healthcare Network – call The Children’s Hospital Westmead, Child Protection Unit on 9845 2434 or after hour on 9845 0000 and ask for the Intake Worker for Child Protection
- Northern Children’s Healthcare Network – call the John Hunter Children’s Hospital, Newcastle on 4921 3000 and ask for the on-call child protection paediatrician.
Local Health District/Network Violence, Abuse and Neglect teams
See your intranet site to contact: Child Wellbeing Coordinators, child protection and or violence prevention coordinators, child protection trainers, information exchange central contact points /consultants, Out of Home Care health coordinators, Child Protection Counselling Services, Sexual Assault Services, New Street Services and Under 10s Sexualised Behaviour Program.
Contact your local Family Referral Services (FRS)
to refer vulnerable children, young people and families for information, assessment and referral to local support services or ask the NSW Health Child Wellbeing Unit.