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In many societies, including ours, children are valued and their health, safety and wellbeing are important. Protecting our children and young people from harm is everyone’s job.

In Australia, each state has laws to keep children safe and to make sure their needs are met. In NSW, this law is the Children and Young Person (Care and Protection) Act 1998.

Communities and Jusitce (DCJ) is the main government department in NSW that puts this law into practice but all government departments, partnership agencies and the community share this responsibility.

Harm in the form of child abuse and neglect can happen to any child or young person in any family, and it can have lasting and damaging effects.

If you think a child or young person is at risk of harm from abuse or neglect, contact the Child Protection helpline on 13 21 11. The helpline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and staffed by qualified caseworkers.

A shared responsibility

In NSW, the safety and wellbeing of children and young people is the shared responsibility of parents and families, supported by the community, government and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

The purpose of Communities and Justice (DCJ) is to protect children and young people who are most at risk of abuse and neglect.

Our focus is on helping families live safely together at home. If this is not possible, we work to ensure children in care have the opportunities to create a successful future.

To build a strong and flexible child protection system we are:

  • focusing on prevention and early intervention services for those who need it most
  • improving the way we work with families and the Court
  • helping parents to reduce risks to their children
  • giving kids in out of home care the chance to reach their full potential in stable homes

Working with families

For the child protection sector, FACS has developed Practice First as a model for the way government and non-government agencies work with families. For example, Practice First encourages caseworkers to spend more time with families and requires them to explore all options for keeping children safety together with their families.

The preferred order for the permanent placement of a child or young person is:

When keeping families safely together is not possible, the permanent placement principles will guide how we provide children and young people with a safe and stable home. The principles provide a guide for casework, decisions by the Children’s Court, and timeframes for when the Court must decide if returning a child to their parent is possible. FACS must demonstrate to the Children’s Court that it has considered each of the placement options.

Shining a light

Read 'Second Chance' from Shining a light on good practice 2015, about how Anne Marie, who has family members who are victims of the Stolen Generation, struggled when her daughter was put in out of home care, and how she got her back.

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Last updated: 20 Mar 2023