The national approach to child protection project is tasked with developing a national theoretical framework for child protection and early intervention. All states and territories and the Australian Government were involved in developing the project's schedule of work, with the Department of Child Safety taking lead responsibility.
Ministers and chief executives with child protection responsibilities subsequently approved the project's scope which included the investigation of terms, definitions, approaches, strategic directions and challenges for government agencies delivering child protection and early intervention services in Australia.
The project identified common approaches and practices across jurisdictions in their delivery of child protection and early intervention services. This included jurisdictions' emphasis on enhanced early intervention services, a focus on increased stability for children in out-of-home care and improved child-centred practices.
Other common practices identified included child protection agencies assessment of both 'risks' and 'needs' of children and families, with these practices being enhanced through the implementation of sophisticated information systems and evidence-based practice and policy.
Common challenges identified included difficulties in maintaining a skilled workforce, meeting community expectations and promoting child protection as a community-wide responsibility.
The project has released two key outputs:
The Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs have used the research report as an evidence base for the discussion paper Australia's children safe and well (April 2008). This paper is informing the development of a national child protection framework.