Keep Them Safe: A Shared Approach to Child Wellbeing

The NSW Government Action Plan In Response to the Wood Report, Delivering Child Protection Reforms In NSW

On March 3, 2009, The NSW Government released its response to the Wood Report, entitled Keep Them Safe: A Shared Approach to Child Wellbeing.

Key Documents

Contents of this Page

Consultation Mechanisms
KTS Initiatives
Budget
Regional Engagement Tour
Media Releases
Keeping Accountable
Resources
Meetings
Forums
OOHC Funding Review
KTS Kit Summary
KTS Question and Answer

Consultation Mechanisms

Child Protection Advisory Group (CPAG)

Chaired by the Minister for Community Services. This is the peak advisory group, with members including heads of peak organisations, prominent academics in the child protection field, union representatives and senior officers from the Departments of Premier and Cabinet, Human Services, Education and Training, and NSW Health.

Minutes of CPAG

Advisory Pool

There is a further advisory pool that is constituted of direct service providers and key stakeholders from Health and Education. The feedback of those in the advisory pool is sought on discussion papers and other associated materials. The advisory pool can also be drawn from to participate in time-limited and specific working groups.

NGO Consultative Group

There are a number of consultative groups that are currently operating. These groups work on a specific issue.

Current consultative groups:

For more information on the consultation process, please visit:

NSW Department of Human Services, Community Services

The consultation mechanisms developed from originally 3 advisory groups that the Government called together with which to consult stakeholders:

  1. Child Protection Advisory Group (CPAG)
  2. A forum for peaks to address high level policy and implementation issues.
  3. Service System Advisory Group (SSAG)
  4. A forum representing DoCS-funded services with a focus on service system issues.
  5. Community and Carers Advisory Group (CCAG)
  6. A forum representing service user groups and carers to address matters relevant to those specific areas.

In early 2010, it was agreed at a joint meeting that the groups would devolve to the current mechanisms.

KTS Initiatives

Below is a brief overview of the changes undertaken in KTS. The reforms have included a raft of new or increased services not mentioned below. For details of all the reforms, please visit the Keep Them Safe website www.keepthemsafe.nsw.gov.au or consult the KTS annual report 2009-2010.

Current/Ongoing

  • Family Referral Services - referral service linking families to support services. Current pilot operating in Hunter/Central Coast, Mount Druitt, and Dubbo and surrounds. Additional 2 to be launched in Wollongong and Tamworth. More Info
  • Service System Realignment - former Community Services Grants Program (CSGP), redeveloped into new service system, consisting of Early Intervention Placement Prevention program (EIPP) and Community Builders. More Info
  • NGO workforce development and capacity building - plan developed to support working with and growth of NGOs.More Info
  • OOHC Coordinators - employed in both NSW Health and Dept of Education and Training to better support needs of children and young people entering care. More Info
  • Aboriginal consultation model  provisionally titled Protecting Aboriginal Children Together (PACT) - in development.
  • Family Case Management - integrated case management for families that have contact with many different types of services. Currently in staged implementation. More Info

Completed

  • Legislative Amendments - amendments to the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 were assented in April 2008. The majority of the amendments have been proclaimed. Main tranche of proclaimed January 2009. More Info
  • New Mandatory Reporter Threshold - reporting threshold for mandated reporters changed from ‘risk of harm’ to ‘risk of significant harm’. Introduction of Mandatory Reporter Guide to support mandated reporters in assessing to situation and what action to take. More Info
  • Information Exchange Provision - enabling better flow of information between government and non-government agencies that are prescribed bodies. More Info
  • Child Wellbeing Units - support for mandatory reporters in government agencies in the assessment and use of Mandatory Reporter Guide.

Voluntary OOHC - introduction of system to prevent children from ‘drifting’ in short-term or respite care, that is non-statutory. More Info

Budget

2010/11

2009/10

Regional Engagement Tour

The Regional Engagement Tour was a series of 11 forums held across the state during September and October 2009. The forums enabled justice and human services workers from both government and non-government agencies to hear directly from senior government and non-government representatives about the Keep Them Safe reforms and the impact they will have on their agencies and communities.

The tour was an initiative of the NSW Government in partnership with the non- government sector, and coordinated by the Association of Childrens Welfare Agencies (ACWA).

Almost 1500 participants attended the forums, held in: Sydney, Newcastle, Coffs Harbour, Wollongong, Queanbeyan, Campbelltown, Armidale, Penrith, Dubbo, Broken Hill, and Wagga Wagga.

Of those that attended the forums, 61 per cent felt that it was ‘very valuable’ or ‘valuable’. In particular, 51 per cent found the information provided in the forum on Keep Them Safe to be the most valuable aspect of the forums, followed by the partnership-building approach of the forum.

Despite the informative aspects of the forums, many participants were interested in more detailed information on Keep Them Safe and the accompanying new structures. Participants were interested in more details about the Child Wellbeing Units, Family Referral Services, funding for services, and more practical case examples of the new system.

Ultimately, the forums proved to be a valuable and effective tool to convey the forthcoming changes and for introducing the concepts of shared responsibility and working together. It acted as a proponent to start and shift the way government and non-government agencies work together, towards a more collaborative, partnership approach.

Media Releases

(at the announcement of Keep Them Safe)

ACWA Welcomes Government Response to Wood

Premier's Media release

NCOSS: NSW Government Announces Response

Hansard Transcript (Legislative Assembly, 3 March 2009 Child Protection Services

AbSec: Government Response to the Wood Commission welcomed

Shadow Minister: Wood Report Throws Down Gauntlet for Radical Reform

NSW Family Services Inc: "Don't Build a New System on Rusty infrastructure"

Education Department to help implement Wood Action Plan

AASW: Wood Response: Laying the Foundations

Health NSW: Keep Them Safe: Children's health a top priority

The Benevolent Society welcomes child welfare reforms

Police ready to play their part in new measures for child protection

Keeping Accountable - the NSW Peaks Campaign to Monitor and Support the Implementation pf Keep Them Safe

The Keeping Accountable campaign was launched by a group of non-government human service peak organisations, at the end of 2009. The campaign seeks to effectively keep track of, and contribute to, the progress of the Keep Them Safe Action Plan. This includes monitoring the implementation and seeking to resolve issues that arise as the implementation progresses.

The non-government human service peak organisations, also known as KTS Peaks, include:

  • Association of Children's Welfare Agencies (ACWA)
  • Aboriginal Child, Family and Community Care State Secretariat (NSW) Inc. (AbSec)
  • CREATE Foundation
  • NSW Family Services Inc. (FamS)
  • Local Community Services Association (LCSA)
  • Council of Social Service of NSW (NCOSS)
  • Youth Action and Policy Association (YAPA)

The Keeping Accountable campaign has identified three significant dates to use as a guide for its short, medium and long term objectives. These are:

  • Short Term - Preparing the NSW State Budget (May-June 2010)
  • Medium Term - NSW State Election (26 March 2011)
  • Long Term - End KTS Five-Year Implementation Plan (2014)

The objectives corresponding to each period are as follows:

Short Term

  • Finalising the CSGP review and allocating more resources to family support services
  • Finalising the roll-out of the OOHC funding
  • Finalising the second phase of the capacity building project for Aboriginal Organisations

Medium Term

  • Exploring bi-partisan options
  • The FRS' s evaluation and its roll-out across NSW
  • Reviewing and implementing the findings from the DHS funding review

Long Term

  • Building and expanding the capacity of the Non-Government Sector (including Workforce Development)
  • Increase the Non-Goverment Sector's involvement in service provision
  • Increase the capacity of services on the ground to cater for increased need

An overall objective is to cultivate a culture change that promotes increased accountability, mutual respect, collaboration and a shared responsibility to child wellbeing.

Resources

ACWA have developed two documents to assist with monitoring the progress of the implementation of Keep Them Safe and the recommendations in the Wood Report.

  • KTS and Wood Recommendations (Last Updated: January 2010) - This excel spreadsheet is a 20 page document that lists all of the recommendations from the Wood Report and correlates it to the Keep Them Safe Action Plan.
  • Implementation of KTS by date (Last Updated: January 2010) - This excel spreadsheet is a 4-page document that lists the implementation actions. It is listed by ascending deliverable date order, where known).

To assist us to keep these documents up-to-date, please return this completed form to kts@acwa.asn.au

Meetings

The KTS Peaks meet regularly to discuss how the implementation of the Keep Them Safe Action Plan has progressed. Relevant government agencies are invited regularly to discuss issues and concerns that have been identified by the peaks. Below is a list of the meeting dates, with written responses from government on issues and concerns raised so far.

6 November 2009
5 February 2010 - Open letter to forum from Annette Gallard, Chief Executive Community Services
7 May 2010 - Open letter to forum from the Minister of Community Services
13 August 2010
5 November 2010
4 February 2011
6 May 2011
5 August 2011
4 November 2011

Organisations should contact their peak agency representative in order to feed-back issues or concerns resulting from the implementation of the Keep Them Safe Action Plan.

Forums

ACWA in collaboration with the other KTS Peaks have held a series of cross-sector forums on the Keep Them Safe Action Plan. These forums provide an opportunity to discuss the combined role that the different community sector peaks and organisations will play to ensure a smooth and responsible implementation of child protection reforms in NSW.

25 June 2010

21 August 2009

10 June 2009

7 May 2009

OOHC Funding Review

In 2009, Community Services, Treasury, and the Department of Premier and Cabinet commissioned The Boston Consulting Group to undertake a review of the funding and escalating costs in OOHC.

Previously a 'cabinet-in-confidence' document, this report was made public after ACWA and the sector called for a clear and transparent process. Several pages of the report remain confidential and are blacked-out.

KTS Kit

KTS Kit Summary

Project Activities

Download Full KTS Kit Report

KTS Keeping it Together (KIT) is a project by the Association for Children’s Welfare Agencies to support the sector during time of significant change resulting from Keep Them Safe. This project was funded by Community Services.

The project conducted in 2009-2011 supported non-government agencies during the period of extensive changes. The sector was informed of the changes, provided with support, collaboration was promoted, and the sector was consulted with regularly.

A number of diverse activities were conducted in this project including:

  • The development of a child protection policy that all sector non-government agencies can adopt as their own organisational policy. This is a collaboration of the peaks including: YAPA, FamS and LCSA.
  • A total of 11 regional forums conducted in Dubbo, Wagga Wagga, the Mid North Coast, and the Hunter and Central Coast. Attended by a broad range of the service types in the sector.
  • A regional media project, which developed eight articles of positive collaborative practice in eight regional locations, with four of these articles being covered by local media.
  • A review of HSNet functionality and a preliminary mapping of services in the HSNet database.
  • The development of a non-government sector oriented KTS website for disseminating information and responding to questions.

The project highlighted the goodwill in the sector to work more cohesively and collaboratively for better outcomes for families and their children.

The following recommendations are suggested:

  • Promote and facilitate local interagency communication and collaboration.
  • Resource and support the service system adequately in order to achieve the objectives that are stated in KTS and the Wood Report.
  • Utilise and harness the potential that is in HSNet.
  • Continue with existing channels of information dissemination and further develop these to promote best practice.

KTS Question and Answer

The KTS website currently has a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page
Previous government responses to questions from Peaks

ACWA takes every effort to ensure that the following answers and policy advice presented here are accurate. However changes may occur without notice coming to our knowledge.

Information Exchange Provision

Q - Are psychologists operating as a private practice in the same situation as stand alone GP's and private medical practitioners in terms of requirements to share information under Ch 16A?

A - While arguably not providing health care (unlike psychiatrists) they are certainly addressing the welfare of the child and so fall within the definition of a prescribed body in the same way as medical practitioners with incorporated practices.

Q - Are you able to clarify if in fact information can be requested from medical practitioners and psychiatrists and, if so, what constitutes an ‘incorporated practice’?

A - For the purposes of Chapter 16A Exchange of Information, the regulation includes as a prescribed body:

any other organisation the duties of which include direct responsibility for, or direct supervision of, the provision of health care, welfare, education, children’s services, residential services, or law enforcement, wholly or partly to children.

According to that definition it would include medical practitioners and psychiatrists provided that they are working in an organisation (such as an 'incorporated practice'). An example of this would be a medical centre where there are several practitioners working for the one organisation.

Sole practitioners are not currently included under the legislation.

Q - Is it correct that if a psychologist provides a report to a prescribed body, that the prescribed body may in turn provide that report or information contained within it to another prescribed body if it meets the criteria under Ch 16A?

A - Yes the information can be passed on UNLESS the report classifies the information as about physical safety or identifying a confidential source of information in which case the exceptions under section 245D(4) would arise and so require consideration.

Mandatory Reporting

Q - I'm a mandatory reporter- what happens if I report to the Community Services Child Protection Helpline where the situation is below the 'risk of significant harm' threshold? Does my report still get recorded?

A - Mandatory reporters are encouraged to use the Mandatory Reporter Guide (MRG) to assist them to determine whether a report needs to be made to the Community Services Child Protection Helpline.

If the MRG has indicated that a report to the Helpline is not necessary, the mandatory reporter can use their professional judgement and make the report if they think there is an overriding need to.

The Helpline will record the reporters' concerns. The information is used to determine whether the report meets 'risk of significant harm'.

Referrals

Q - What are the roles and responsibilities of CWU workers? Are there different approaches between CWUs?

A - The role of the CWU are:

  • Help agency mandatory reporters identify whether a child or young person is likely to meet the risk of significant harm threshold.
  • Provide advice to mandatory reporters about possible service responses in cases where concerns for a child or a young person fall below the threshold.
  • Drive better alignment and coordination of agency service systems over time, to enable better responses to children and families in need of assistance.

http://www.keepthemsafe.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/84878/CWUs.pdf (dead link)

Each Government Department operationalises the CWU in a way that best suits their existing systems.

FamS is aware of the practice where Police are making referrals without obtaining consent, and they have had discussions with the Police CWU. The Police CWU has explained that it is difficult to get consent in a Police response situation. As a way of bridging the consent issue, the Police CWU has committed itself to better sharing of information when making the referral. Further information 

Other Resources

Referral Pathways Factsheet