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Responses to Child Protection Systems Royal Commission

The Child Protection Systems Royal Commission delivered its report, 'The Life They Deserve', in August 2016. The report made 260 recommendations about improvements to the child protection system. Read about each recommendation below, including details of the government’s response.
  • 1

    Establish a protocol to govern eligibility for a grant of legal aid to carers, where the child’s best interests would be better or more appropriately secured by obtaining Family Court orders, rather than by proceedings in the Youth Court. Further, that funding be provided to the Legal Services Commission and quarantined for this specific purpose.

    The South Australian Government accepts this recommendation in principle.

    A consultation process will need to occur involving the Federal Circuit Court, the Family Court, the Legal Services Commission and other relevant partners in developing an appropriate protocol which gives effect to the intention of this recommendation. 

    Further, the Commonwealth Government provides the Legal Services Commission with funding to be used for family law proceedings and other ‘Commonwealth law matters’. As such, the government will request the Commonwealth Government to provide funding to cover any matters which come within that protocol. 

    Status: Accepted in principle - Phase 2
  • 2

    Fund, subject to a protocol, any required filing costs where there is a need for Youth Court orders to be registered in the Family Court to improve the safety of the children to whom they relate. 

    The South Australian Government accepts this recommendation in principle. 

    The government accepts that there are instances in which it is appropriate to register a Youth Court order in the Family Court in order to improve the safety of the child to which it relates and that it may be appropriate to modify the criteria governing eligibility for a grant of legal aid in such matters, so that it is easier for a carer to obtain a grant of legal aid, and therefore a certificate which waives the court filing fee. 

    The Federal Circuit Court or Family Court currently waives its filing fee where a person has obtained a grant of legal aid. 

    The government accepts that a protocol should be developed to identify the criteria that would apply where a person wants to register a Youth Court order in the Family Court in order to improve the safety of the child for which the order relates.

    It is the Commonwealth Government, rather than the state government, that provides the Legal Services Commission with funding for applications made in the Family Court and other 'Commonwealth law matters'. The South Australian Government will request the Commonwealth Government to provide specific funding to cover the matters that come within that protocol. 

    Status: Accepted in principle - Phase 2
  • 3

    Support and promote for action, recommendation 5(a) of the Family Law Council interim report (June 2015), which advocates for the development of a national database of child protection and Family Court orders.

    The South Australian Government accepts this recommendation. 

    The Family Law Council’s final report, published by the Federal Attorney-General since the release of 'The Life They Deserve', reiterates its advocacy for the development of a national database for child protection and Family Court orders.

    The creation of a national database has been advocated for in many states and territories – for example the establishment of a national database was also recommended by the Royal Commission into Family Violence (Victoria).

    The South Australian Government supports the development of a national database of child protection and Family Court orders, as proposed by the Family Law Council, and will promote this issue for action at COAG.

    Status: Accepted - Phase 1
  • 4

    Reinstitute the court liaison role (CLR) as a strategic link between the agency, the Family Court and the Youth Court, to improve system interface and to develop service responses in accordance with the requirements of each jurisdiction.

    The South Australian Government accepted this recommendation on 12 August 2016.

    The court liaison role was reinstituted in the form of the Court Services and Liaison Team within the Department for Child Protection. The team became operational in August 2016.

    This team is currently providing valuable support to case workers and social workers across the Department for Child Protection. The team is responsible for managing the relationship and strategic link between the department and the Youth Court.

    Further work will be undertaken to develop the role of this team in managing and strengthening strategic links between the department and the Family Court.

    Status: Accepted - Phase 1 
  • 5

    Move the Office of Child Protection and the functions of Families SA out of the Department for Education and Child Development to establish a separate department that has the business of child protection as its primary focus, and which has elements and functions as set out in this report.

    The South Australian Government accepted this interim recommendation on 21 June 2016.

    The new Department for Child Protection was established on 1 November 2016. The functions of Families SA were moved out of the Department for Education and Child Development and into the new agency, which has child protection as its primary focus.

    To make the transition as seamless as possible, the new department has retained Families SA’s contact numbers.

    For more information on the new department visit https://www.childprotection.sa.gov.au/

    Status: Accepted - Completed
  • 6

    Appoint a Chief Executive of the new department who has strong leadership skills and recognised credibility in child protection work, and who has a direct line of ministerial responsibility.

    The South Australian Government accepted this interim recommendation on 21 June 2016.

    After an international search, Cathy Taylor was announced as the new chief executive of the stand-alone Department for Child Protection on 14 September 2016.

    Ms Taylor commenced as chief executive on 31 October 2016. For more information about Ms Taylor visit https://www.childprotection.sa.gov.au/department/chief-executive-child-protection

    Status: Accepted - Completed
  • 7

    Implement a structure in the new department that reduces the hierarchies between leadership and front-line workers.

    The South Australian Government accepted this interim recommendation on 21 June 2016.

    As an order of priority, the chief executive, Department for Child Protection has been tasked with reviewing and implementing a flatter structure, where streamlined communication between executive and frontline workers is encouraged.

    Status: Accepted - Phase 1
  • 8

    Establish a refreshed leadership in the new department with emphasis on the attraction and retention of leaders who have recognised credibility in child protection work, and who have the capacity to lead a major reform of organisational culture.

    The South Australian Government accepted this interim recommendation on 21 June 2016.

    The new Chief Executive, Cathy Taylor, commenced 31 October 2016. Ms Taylor has extensive experience in child protection work, and in leading major organisational change.

    Ms Taylor’s appointment is just the first step towards establishing a refreshed leadership. In addition, through the machinery of government changes enacted to create the new Department for Child Protection, a process of refreshed leadership structures and positions has commenced with 3 senior executive leadership positions for finance, human resources and ICT advertised on 15 October 2016.

    Ms Taylor, with assistance from the newly established human resources department, will continue to drive this process into the new year.

    Status: Accepted - Phase 1
  • 9

    Review the delegation of powers to enable decision making to occur at the closest possible level to the child, subject to questions of fiscal responsibility and sensitivity or complexity of the issues.

    The South Australian Government accepts this recommendation.

    As an order of priority, the chief executive, Department for Child Protection has been tasked with reviewing who can make decisions within the agency, and identifying opportunities to enable decision making to occur at the closest possible level to the child.

    Status: Accepted - Phase 1
  • 10

    Adopt a policy that gives a child’s caseworker the primary responsibility for case management and, except in special circumstances, ensures that the caseworker is made aware of all discussions and decisions that affect the child.

    The South Australian Government accepts this recommendation.

    The chief executive, Department for Child Protection has been tasked with adopting the policy recommended by the Royal Commission, and ensuring that the policy translates into practice. The chief executive will be required to regularly report on progress towards recommendation 10 in the manner outlined by the Royal Commission in recommendation 260.

    Status: Accepted - Phase 1
  • 11

    Conduct a formal review of Solution Based Casework™ (SBC) to critically examine whether the model is being used with fidelity to the original model in practice.

    The South Australian Government accepts this recommendation.

    The Department for Child Protection commenced an SBC evaluation project on 28 September 2016. A key component of the project is to evaluate whether the model is being used with fidelity to the original model in practice.

    The evaluation will involve consultation with practitioners, supervisors, managers and staff from the Quality and Practice Directorate to identify ways SBC has improved practice and better understand the challenges that may result in the model not being appropriately applied.

    Findings of the evaluation project will be discussed with the model developer as part of the ongoing adaption of the model for use in South Australia.

    Status: Accepted - Phase 1
  • 12

    Provide an ongoing SBC consultation and training service to be delivered by principal social work staff and appropriately accredited trainers in SBC who remain within the agency.

    The South Australian Government accepts this recommendation.

    Principal social workers in the Department for Child Protection are currently responsible for implementation of the SBC practice model and providing a consultation service to staff where required. Training is delivered by appropriately accredited trainers in the learning and development unit.

    The refreshed learning and development unit, DCP in response to recommendation 24 has been tasked with reviewing the training needs of staff across DCP.

    Status: Accepted - Phase 1
  • 13

    Audit the range of process and policy documents to identify and discard those that are out of date. Develop a single database that is accessible to all staff via the agency’s intranet, to electronically file all current documents.

    The South Australian Government accepts this recommendation.

    In May 2015, a review of all Department for Child Protection process and policy documentation began. The primary purpose of this review is to:

    • identify all policy documentation that is no longer relevant or is out of date and decommission them
    • identify opportunities for rationalisation of policy documentation
    • improve and further develop current policy documentation
    • re-categorise and rename documentation to make it easier to find and access the information and guidance that front line workers require.

    All current policy documentation is stored on and accessible via the departmental intranet.

    A reviewed and streamlined set of policy documentation will be delivered by late-2017 and work to develop a single online database will begin during that period.

    Status: Accepted - Phase 1
  • 14

    Employ administrative assistants at adequate levels of expertise to support casework teams to manage the administrative requirements of C3MS.

    The South Australian Government does not accept this recommendation.

    While the administrative requirements of case workers to record notes on C3MS can be time intensive, employing administrative assistants to undertake data entry and administrative C3MS tasks would not significantly reduce the office-based requirements of case workers.

    Instead it will create an additional layer of information exchange that may lead to key information about children and families being lost, miscommunicated or misinterpreted when uploaded by individuals not involved in the case.

    It may also result in double handing and only minimal efficiency gains, as case workers will still be required to type up or write the similar notes before they are uploaded by others.

    Based on the outcomes of the review of C3MS identified in recommendation 20 and other potential enhancements recommended in 15, 16, 17 and 19, it may be appropriate to consider administrative support for C3MS or an alternative database at a later date.

    Status: Not accepted
  • 15

    Develop clear guidelines for recording information on C3MS, which identify those responsible for data entry and the categories under which data is entered. Rationalise available categories to limit inappropriate categorisation of important information.

    The South Australian Government accepts this recommendation in principle.

    All C3MS-related recommendations and their full acceptance are subject to the outcome of the C3MS review initiated in response to recommendation 20.

    A number of guidelines are available to Department for Child Protection staff about C3MS and the recording of information.

    These guidelines will be reviewed to ensure they are up to date and have specific information regarding who is responsible for recording what information, a rationalisation of categories, and detailed information about the purpose and use of categories.

    Current C3MS training will be reviewed and updated to ensure it provides relevant information regarding new categories and roles and responsibilities. This is discussed further in the response to recommendation 16.

    Status: Accepted in principle - Phase 1
  • 16

    Develop training in the use of C3MS to ensure that practitioners understand their obligations in uploading data, and the limitations of the incident-based nature of recording.

    The South Australian Government accepts this recommendation in principle.

    All C3MS-related recommendations and their full acceptance are subject to the outcome of the C3MS review initiated in response to recommendation 20.

    The update and rationalisation of C3MS categories and updating of guides about the recording and uploading of information will inform the changes to current training regarding obligations in uploading data. This work is discussed further in the response to recommendation 15.

    Review and reform of C3MS training will ensure that obligations in uploading data and recording information, and the limitations of the incident-based nature of recording are covered in future training. C3MS training is currently mandatory for all staff using the system.

    Status: Accepted in principle - Phase 1
  • 17

    Provide practitioners with mobile devices to allow access to C3MS from remote locations.

    The South Australian Government accepts this recommendation in principle.

    All C3MS-related recommendations and their full acceptance are subject to the outcome of the C3MS review initiated in response to recommendation 20.

    In many situations, the availability of C3MS on mobile devices such as phones or tablets would increase efficiency and facilitate better and more responsive relationships between case workers and children and families.

    The Department for Child Protection is currently investigating software solution options that ensure information security is maintained, worker interfaces with applications are easy to use and benefits for case workers and other staff are realised. An example of a potential app being assessed for adoption is iApply, an online forms and workflow automation solution.

    Additional solutions and apps will be evaluated to identify the most appropriate option.

    Status: Accepted in principles - Phase 1
  • 18

    Permit stakeholders such as other government agencies and not-for-profit organisations limited access to C3MS to facilitate cooperation, collaboration and transparency.

    The South Australian Government accepts this recommendation in principle.

    All C3MS-related recommendations and their full acceptance are subject to the outcome of the C3MS review initiated in response to recommendation 20.

    Providing other government agencies and not-for-profit organisations varying levels of access to C3MS will lead to improved availability and sharing of information and therefore better outcomes for families and children receiving services from multiple partners.

    To define and design varying levels of access to C3MS, scoping and investigation work is required to identify key partners who would be granted access and determine the most appropriate and feasible technological solutions.

    Status: Accepted in principle - Phase 2
  • 19

    Set constructive and practical benchmarks for the development of critical enhancements to C3MS.

    The South Australian Government accepts this recommendation in principle.

    All C3MS-related recommendations and their full acceptance are subject to the outcome of the C3MS review initiated in response to recommendation 20.

    The setting of constructive and practical benchmarks for the development of critical enhancements in C3MS is contingent on the result of the C3MS review in response to recommendation 20.

    The Department for Child Protection currently plans changes and enhancements to C3MS using an annual planning cycle. Dependent on the results of the review, this system will be reviewed and benchmarks for C3MS set.

    Status: Accepted in principle - Phase 2
  • 20

    Conduct a review of the long-term viability of C3MS, and monitor research and developments in the area of electronic information management systems with a view to determining whether C3MS should be replaced with a more suitable and effective electronic information system.

    The South Australian Government accepted this recommendation on 12 August 2016.

    An external review of the long-term viability of C3MS will begin in 2017.

    The review will involve:

    • assessing the current effectiveness of data management
    • identifying possible improvements
    • rigorous research of data systems in other jurisdictions.

    The review will determine whether C3MS has the capability to meet future child protection system needs and identify options for alternative systems if required. Consultation with users of C3MS will be undertaken.

    The outcomes of this review may influence whether recommendations 15 to 19 are fully accepted and implemented.

    Status: Accepted - Phase 1

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