Keep Them Safe and Child Protection Services

Northern NSW LHD provides a range of services that focus on both enhancing the health and wellbeing of children and young people and their caregivers and reducing the health impacts of abuse and neglect. There is commitment to ensuring that staff meet their mandatory legal and professional obligation to make a report to the Department of Human Services – Community Services when they suspect a child (0-16 years) is at risk of significant harm from abuse or neglect.

Child Protection Services in NNSW LHD are comprised of four positions, the Child Protection Manager, Coordinator Out of Home Care, Senior Child Protection Health Information Officer and the Coordinator Child Wellbeing. Together, these positions are responsible for the coordination of child protection services.  These services are shared services. They are hosted by NNSW LHD and provide an equal service to Mid North Coast (MNC) LHD.

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The main objectives of the Manager are to ensure the smooth functioning of child protection business across MNC and NNSW LHDs and improve service responses to children and young people who have suffered abuse or neglect.

The Coordinator Out of Home Care position has been funded from the Keep Them Safe government initiative. The main objective of this position is to ensure all children and young people in the catchment area, entering statutory out of home care, have a primary health screening within 30 days of entering care, and a comprehensive health assessment within 3 months. The position works very closely with internal health services and with external agencies such as Community Services and the Northern NSW Medicare Local.

The Coordinator Child Wellbeing has also been funded from the Keep Them Safe government initiative. This position works to ensure there is a direct linkage between health facilities and the Northern Child Wellbeing Unit in Newcastle. The Child Wellbeing Unit provides advice to NSW Health workers on what action to take and who to talk to about concerns for children at risk. This position provides training and consultation regarding child protection issues including how to use the Mandatory Reporter Guide (structured decision making tool for determining if a child or young person is at risk of significant harm) and exchange of information under Chapter 16A. The position also has responsibility for developing and sustaining interagency partnerships and child and young person service mapping across NNSW and MNC LHDs.

Aside from these positions, there are also Child Protection Counselling Services. The Child Protection Counselling Service is a specialist service located in Community Health Centres across the LHD. The service provides clinical assessment and intervention for children 0-18 years of age and their families. Community Services and NSW Police are the sole referrers to this service. The Counsellors also provide consultation, training and supervision to health workers regarding child protection issues.

All LHD staff are mandatory reporters of children at risk of significant harm. They must report, if in the course of their professional work, they have grounds to suspect that a child is at risk of significant harm.

Northern NSW LHD ensures that forensic medical examinations are carried out where physical abuse and neglect has been identified by Community Services or NSW Police. This involves assessment and treatment by trained Paediatricians and ED medical officers.

Two Central Contact Point services, for the exchange of information between Community Services and the LHD, are provided by NNSW LHD. The LHD is legislated to comply promptly with requests for information from Community Services regarding children at risk.

The Joint Referral Unit (JRU) is a centralised State referral unit. This unit consists of representation from NSW Police, Community Services and Department of Health.

Useful Websites

Keep Them Safe

http://www.keepthemsafe.nsw.gov.au/

Family and Community Services

http://www.community.nsw.gov.au/docs_menu/about_us.html