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Procedure Properties

Title: Child Safety
Category: Offender Management
Version: 06
Implement Date: 15 December 2010
Application: Probation and Parole /Custodial Operations
Availability: Public

Authority

Appendices and Forms

Procedures

Policies

  • Instrument of Delegation of Chief Executive Powers - Corrective Services Act 2006 (in-confidence)

Procedure - Child Safety


Purpose
1.Process
2.Case planning
3.Service delivery coordination
4.Notifications to Child Safety Services
5.Information required by Child Safety Services
6.Timeframe for making a referral
7.Escalation Process
8.Information exchange
8.1Information exchange with other prescribed entities/service providers
8.2Information requested by Child Safety Services
9.Confidentiality of information
10.Counselling/support services for 17 year old offenders

Purpose

To ensure the protection and care needs of children who come into contact with QCS are appropriately and effectively met.

1. Process

QCS must ensure that it meets its responsibilities to children under the Child Protection Act 1999 (CPA) where children come into contact with QCS, including -

  1. 17 year old offenders in the custody or under the supervision of QCS;
  2. pre-school aged children accommodated with approved female prisoners in corrective services facilities;
  3. unborn children of female offenders;
  4. child visitors to corrective services facilities;
  5. children who live with or may have associations with offenders who are under community-based supervision or who are likely to be associated with offenders upon discharge; and
  6. children who are substantially at risk because of the release of a child sex offender.

2. Case planning

Refer CPA ss. 51D(1)(c)(d), 51L(1)(g), 51N(d), 51W(1)(g), 51Y(2)(c)

For the purposes of case planning or reviewing a case plan for a child the Department of Communities - Child Safety Services can require QCS to -

  1. facilitate access to an offender; and
  2. participate in case planning for a child related to an offender.

Child Safety Services must write to the general manager of a corrective services facility or district manager who must cooperate fully with the request.

A copy of a case plan provided to a general manager or district manager must be placed on the offender's file.

For visits by Child Safety Officers to a corrective services facility for the purpose of case planning, refer procedure - Visitors to a Facility (Excluding Personal Visitors).

3. Service delivery coordination

Refer CPA ss. 159A(a), 159B, 159F, 159H and appendix - Guide for Government Entities in Relation to Information Exchange and Service Delivery Coordination

QCS must adhere to the principles for coordinating service delivery to children as set out in the CPA ss. 159B, 159B(c), (e) and (f).

Child Safety Services can request QCS to provide services to a child or to an offender who is a member of the child's family to help meet the child's protection and care needs. In addition, Child Safety Services can request a service to a pregnant woman to help meet the child's protection and care needs and promote the wellbeing of the child after it is born. For example, the Child Safety Services may request that QCS ensure that an offender undertakes a drug and alcohol program or participate in counselling. Child Safety Services must write to the general manager/district manager (as delegate) to make the request under s. 159H CPA. Service delivery coordination requests by Child Safety Services to privately operated corrective services facilities are to be directed to QCS's Director, Child Safety Unit (as delegate) for consideration.

The general manager/manager/district manager/Director, Child Safety Unit must take reasonable steps to comply with the request so far as the request is consistent with QCS's functions and does not unreasonably affect the discharge of QCS's functions in relation to other persons or matters.

The Director, Child Safety Unit must be advised in writing of services provided in accordance with QCS's mandatory reporting requirements under the Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian Act 2000 (CCYPCGA), Part 2A.

If the general manager/manager/district manager is unable to provide the service requested or is unable to provide all of the services requested, the general manager/manager/district manager must liaise with the Director, Child Safety and write to Child Safety Services advising of the reasons. The Director, Child Safety Unit can initially be contacted at ChildSafteyUnit@dcs.qld.gov.au. Copies of all correspondence must be kept on the relevant offender's file.

4. Notifications to Child Safety Services

Definitions

Under the Child Protection Act 1999 (CPA) Part 3, Section 9, Division 1

(1) Harm to a child, is any detrimental effect of a significant nature on the child's physical, psychological or emotional well being.

(2) It is immaterial how the harm is caused.

(3) Harm can be caused by -

  1. physical, psychological or emotional abuse of neglect; or
  2. sexual abuse of exploitation

Examples

An offender notifies an officer that a visitor to his partner at home may have harmed their child.

A probation and parole officer conducts a home assessment and has a reasonable suspicion that a child is at risk.

Under the Child Protection Act 1999 (CPA) Part 3, Section 10, Division 1

A child in need of protection is a child who-

  1. has suffered harm, is suffering harm, or is at unacceptable risk of suffering harm; and
  2. does not have a parent able and willing to protect the child from the harm.

Refer CPA s 22 and flow chart attached to administrative form - Report of a Reasonable Suspicion of Child Abuse and/or Neglect.

If a departmental employee or an officer of an engaged service provider has a reasonable suspicion that a child is being harmed or is at risk of harm, the officer or employee should discuss the matter with his/her supervising officer (including when an unborn child appears to be at risk of harm or in need of protection after he or she is born).

Suspicion may arise from a number of sources including observation, intelligence or information given to an officer.

If an officer requires clarification and believes it is necessary, they may discuss the matter with their Manager first and then, if not satisfied, with the Director, Child Safety (ph. 3247 8309).

Refer appendix - Clinical risk factors and indicators for sexual abuse (in-confidence), Child Abuse, Physical Abuse and Emotional Abuse (in-confidence)

The officer or employee should report the suspicion and the basis for it and other details as required completing the Administration Form Report of a Reasonable Suspicion of Child Abuse and/or Neglect and fax it to the Child Safety Services Regional Intake Service (CSSRIS) during business hours and a make a follow up phone call to confirm receipt. If outside of business hours the form must still be faxed to the CSSRIS. If the matter is urgent an officer is to phone the Child Safety After Hours Service Centre to notify them of the matter. If the matter is not urgent, a follow up phone call is to be made to the CSSRIS the next business day to confirm receipt of the form,

Upon notifying CSSRIS, officers are required to forward the completed administrative form - Report of Reasonable Suspicion of Child Abuse and/or Neglect, by fax (3225 1404) or email the Child Safety Unit at ChildSafteyUnit@dcs.qld.gov.au.

All communications with Child Safety Services must be inputted into IOMS and the original document must be held on the offender's file.

Upon making a referral to Child Safety Services, an officer may follow up on the outcome of an assessment as provided for under s. 159M of CPA. Refer appendix - Guide for Government Entities in Relation to Information Exchange and Service Delivery Coordination

5. Information required by Child Safety Services

In making a referral after witnessing an incident or an officer has a reasonable suspicion of Child Abuse and/or Neglect, the following information is required by the Department of Child Safety (if known)-

  1. the child's name;
  2. the child's date of birth;
  3. the place or places where the child lives;
  4. the name of the child's parents;
  5. the place or places where the parents live or may be contacted;
  6. the details of the harm or likely harm which the officer is aware or suspects; and
  7. the officer's name, address and telephone number.

6. Timeframe for making a referral

Upon witnessing or becoming aware of suspected harm the officer is required to make a referral as soon as possible and complete the administrative form - Report of a Reasonable Suspicion of Child Abuse and/or Neglect and fax to Child Safety Services Regional Intake Service (CSSRIS).

If the officer believes a child requires urgent attention by Child Safety Services a telephone referral may be necessary, a follow up fax is required in urgent cases.

7. Escalation Process

If a referring officer is not satisfied with the way Child Safety Services has assessed or responded to the referral or continues to witness the same issues after a Child Safety Service investigation, the officer is able to escalate their concerns by contacting the following officer's in order:

  1. Team Leader of Child Safety Regional Intake Service CSSRIS where the officer referred the matter;
  2. CSSRIS Manager;
  3. Client Complaints Officer in the relevant Child Safety Services office; and
  4. QCS Director of Child Safety Unit.

8. Information exchange

Refer CPA ss. 159A(b), 159C, 159M, 159N and appendix - Guide for Government Entities in Relation to Information Exchange and Service Delivery Coordination

QCS must exchange “relevant information”, as defined in s. 159C of the CPA, with other prescribed entities/service providers, including Child Safety Services.

Note: Only an authorised officer of Child Safety Services may request and be provided with relevant or particular relevant, information under the CPA. Relevant departmental delegates must ensure that a Child Safety Services officer requesting relevant or particular relevant information is an authorised officer and that their Child Safety Services identification card identifies their status in this respect.

Refer CPA ss. 149, 152, 153

8.1 Information exchange with other prescribed entities/service providers

The information sharing provisions of the CPA allow prescribed entities to give relevant information in their possession or control to service providers and vice versa. Refer CPA s. 159M

For the definition of “relevant information”, refer CPA s. 159C. Departmental delegates under this provision must be familiar with the definition of “relevant information”.

A “child in need of protection” is a child who has suffered harm, is suffering harm, or is at an unacceptable risk of suffering harm and who does not have a parent able and willing to protect the child from harm. Refer CPA s. 10.

For the definition of “service provider”, refer CPA s. 159D. A service provider is defined broadly to capture any person or organisation providing a service to children or families, and prescribed entities are included in the concept of service provider.

For information sharing, “prescribed entity” is defined under s. 159D of the CPA as -

  1. the chief executive or an authorised officer of the Department of Communities;
  2. the chief executives of Queensland Corrective Services and the Departments of Communities, Disability Services, Education, Housing, Health; and
  3. the commissioner of the Queensland Police Service.

Only relevant information may be approved for release to Child Safety Services or any other prescribed entity. Requests for non-relevant information may be considered in accordance with s 341 of the Corrective Services Act 2006 refer procedure - Disclosure of Confidential Information.

Refer Instrument of Delegation of Chief Executive Powers - Corrective Services Act 2006 (in-confidence)

8.2 Information requested by Child Safety Services

All requests by Child Safety Services to departmental delegates for relevant information under CPA s. 159N, or particular relevant information under CPA s. 159M, should be made in writing. In emergency situations a request may be made via telephone but must be followed as soon as practicable by a confirmation letter or e-mail. The request must include sufficient details to identify the relevant child, person or family about whom information is being sought. Information provided may include -

  1. name and age of the child;
  2. cultural identity;
  3. disabilities;
  4. siblings;
  5. school attended by the child;
  6. name and address of parent and/or carer;
  7. nature of QCS's current or proposed intervention (eg. whether a child has been assessed as being in need of protection (Intensive Family Support or Child Protection Order in place));
  8. nature of the information sought and how information is 'relevant' (eg. if investigating concerns in relation to a pregnant woman the request may seek details on any known mental health history, imminence of delivery); and
  9. urgency of the request and preferred response time, including the reason for the urgency.

The written request must indicate how the information being sought meets one or more of the requirements of relevance. For example, the request may include an explanation of how Child Safety Services might use the information being sought to inform its future actions in responding to the child's welfare needs. Whilst the relevance of some requests may be self-evident there will be other requests, such as descriptions of behaviour being exhibited by the parent of a child in care, where the relevance may be less obvious.

There are circumstances where, under the CPA, a prescribed entity can decline the request of Child Safety Services. These are when giving the information could reasonably be expected to -

  1. prejudice the investigation of a contravention or possible contravention of a law in a particular case;
  2. prejudice an investigation under the Coroners Act 2003; or
  3. enable the existence or identity of a confidential source of information, in relation to the enforcement or administration of a law, to be ascertained; or
  4. endanger a person's life or physical safety; or
  5. prejudice the effectiveness of a lawful method or procedure for preventing, detecting, investigating, or dealing with a contravention or possible contravention of a law; and
  6. not be in the public interest to give the information.

Refer CPA s 159N (3)

If the QCS delegate receiving the request for the information is not satisfied that the information meets the threshold of relevant information, the delegate may refuse the request to give information. A prescribed entity does not commit an offence by failing to comply with a request in these circumstances.

Refer CPA s 159N (4)

For decisions relating to offenders who are no longer accommodated or supervised by QCS, the decision regarding information sharing is to be made by the general manager/manager/district manager (as delegate) at the corrective services facility/district office where the offender was last accommodated or supervised.

Any information sharing requests to privately operated corrective services facilities are to be directed to QCS's Director, Child Safety (as delegate) for consideration. The Director, Child Safety can initially be contacted at ChildSafteyUnit@dcs.qld.gov.au.

9. Confidentiality of information

Refer CPA ss 22, 159Q, 159R, 186, 187, 188; procedure - Disclosure of Confidential Information

Sections 22 and 159Q of the CPA provide protection from liability for notification of, or information given about, alleged harm or risk of harm. These sections apply if a person, acting honestly, notifies or gives information to the chief executive of Child Safety Services, another officer of Child Safety Services or police officer. This information relates to the reasonable suspicion that a child has been, is being or is likely to be, harmed or that an unborn child may be at risk of harm after birth. The person is not liable, civilly, criminally or under an administrative process, for giving the report. In doing so, the person cannot be held to have breached professional etiquette or ethics, or departed from accepted standards of professional conduct. Section 186 of the CPA protects the identity of a person who reports a reasonable suspicion of harm to Child Safety Services.

If an officer has concerns or issues in relation to the provision of information, or access to a document under s 187(4) of the CPA, the Director, Child Safety Unit must be consulted. The Director, Child Safety can initially be contacted at ChildSafteyUnit@dcs.qld.gov.au.

Subject to section 188 of the CPA, if an officer is in receipt of information related to a Child Safety Services investigation, the officer must not disclose the information or document to anyone else.

Subject to section 186, the information may be disclosed for the purposes directly related to a child's protection or welfare.

10. Counselling/support services for 17 year old offenders

Under section 5(1) of Schedule 1 to the CCYPCGA, any person providing counselling or support services to offenders aged 17 years must have been issued with a Blue Card by the Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian (the Commission).

If the counselling and support services include, or are likely to include, the person being physically present with the 17 year old offender while no-one else is present, the person must possess a valid Blue Card.

Where a Blue Card is required, it is the responsibility of the officer making the referral to ensure that the person conducting the counselling or support service is the holder of a valid Blue Card. A check must be made by officer to the Commission using the form - Authorisation to Confirm a Valid Blue Card.

PART B of the form is to be completed by the officer referring the young offender. PARTS A and C are to be completed by the counselling or support service. The referring officer is responsible for forwarding the form to the Commission. The referring officer must document in the case notes of the offender when such a check has occurred. As it may take up to a month for a response to be received from the Commission, the officer should take this into consideration when planning to refer a young offender for counselling.

However, if the person providing the counselling or support service to an offender aged 17 years is a registered health practitioner or, if the employer is a government service provider and carries on a business that includes providing counselling or a similar support service, a Blue Card is not required by the person.

Refer CCYPCGA ss 5(1) and (2) of Schedule 1





KELVIN ANDERSON
Commissioner





Version History

15/12/2010 Version 06 - 12/02/2008 Version 05 - 03/01/2008 Version 04 - 28/08/2006 Version 03 - 27/03/2006 Version 02 - 09/12/2005 Version 01 - 31/08/2005 Version 00