Under the new laws, state government agencies and non-government organisations contracted by a state government agency are defined as 'State authorities'. State authorities have increased responsibilities under the new legislation to work with children, young people and families at risk.
The new legislation requires government and non-government services to work in partnership to provide meaningful and connected support for families.
In addition to an investigatory response from the Department for Child Protection, the new law allows for the department to refer matters to state authorities for an alternative response that more appropriately addresses the presenting risk to a child or young person.
Embedding the required practice and systems change to achieve a connected and collaborative sector-wide system response to child protection matters will take time to achieve. In the first instance, we will support and grow existing collaborative efforts at the local level. In parallel, we will trial new referral pathways and partnership approaches with a limited number of State authorities. These trials will inform the approach by which further partnership development occurs with state authorities.
The new Act provides greater scope for information sharing, allowing agencies to develop a more holistic understanding of a child or young person’s needs and risk of harm, and to better coordinate appropriate services to support children, young people and their families.
Section 152 of the Act can allow your agency, as a ‘State authority’, to share information with certain bodies about a child or young person’s safety and wellbeing, to manage risks and better deliver services.
In addition, section 150 of the Act gives the Department for Child Protection the power to require an organisation to provide information, reports or other documents about a child, young person or any adult, including medical and financial records. This could previously only occur with a court order.
We encourage your agency to consider the new information sharing provisions and how they might apply to your work with children and young people.
The new law requires that each child in care has an individual case plan prepared and maintained that sets out the tasks required to support the child to have a positive care experience and reach their full potential.
In addition to involving children and young people and their carers, case plans are developed in partnership with any person or agency with a relevant connection to the child, young person or family. This can include educators, health care professionals, mentors, therapists, cultural representatives, and staff of non-government organisations working with the child or family.
As such, your agency may sometimes be asked to contribute when a case plan is being developed or as part of an annual review of an existing plan. This will be facilitated by the child’s case worker, who will maintain contact with all relevant parties. You may have information or insights that can help give a more holistic picture of the child, their family and their needs.
What is included in a case plan?
A case plan captures a holistic assessment of the individual child’s circumstances, and includes the following parts as relevant to the child:
- decisions made at a family group conference
- a cultural maintenance plan
- a reunification plan
- contact arrangements
- information about how disputes will be resolved.
The plan must also capture the child’s:
- emotional and behaviour functioning or mental health
- developmental progress and disability
- physical health
- education and employment
- recreation and social activities
- self-care skills or a transitioning from care plan for young people aged 15 years or over.
From time-to-time, families have difficulties caring for their children and this can be for many different reasons. Family group conferencing is a way to bring family members together in a positive way with an independent facilitator to make a plan for their child or young person.
In addition to the child and their parents, a number of parties can be involved to ensure that all relevant information is considered. This can include relevant family, Aboriginal representatives, case workers, health care professionals, school representatives and other service providers involved with the family.
As such, representatives from your agency may be required to participate in a family group conference where appropriate and be involved in decision making process. In cases where your agency will be involved in a family group conference, case workers from the Department for Child Protection will work with you and the independent coordinator to facilitate this process.
An online training module outlining the principles of the new Act is available for our key partners.
To sign up for the training, users will need to create a profile and fill out the following fields:
- first and last name
- role (select non-government staff).