Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services

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National approach to child protection

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:

  • a fact sheet (PDF, 304 KB) which can be used as an educational tool to assist new staff in government agencies and NGOs to further develop an understanding of child protection trends and issues across Australia, and
  • a research report (PDF, 782 KB) which can similarly be used to assist staff in attaining a more detailed understanding of key aspects of child protection practices within Australia, including important challenges confronting all jurisdictions.

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.