9 May 2016
New changes have been made to child protection legislation that have expanded the range of professionals who can exchange information about the safety, welfare and wellbeing of children and young people under Chapter 16A of the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998. Changes have also been made to the alternative reporting arrangements for private doctors and general practice nurses.
The need for the changes has been highlighted by the NSW Ombudsman and in evidence given to the Royal Commission into the Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in May 2015 (Case Study 27).
The changes mean that private health practitioners doctors, nurses, midwives, psychologists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists – are now able to exchange information under Chapter 16A.
Changes have also been made to the alternative reporting arrangements for mandatory reporters, so that doctors and general practice nurses who are mandatory reporters can now make reports to the Child Wellbeing Unit of NSW Health rather than the Secretary, through the Child Protection Helpline.
This will assist practitioners across the state caring for vulnerable families to fulfill their mandatory reporting obligations and follows from a trial involving general practitioners in limited regions of NSW which resulted in positive outcomes for children and families.