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Changes as a result of Keep Them Safe

The Special Commission of Inquiry into Child Protection Services in NSW and Keep Them Safe recognises that child protection is everybody’s business. There are eight principles that guide child protection in NSW. These are:

  1. Child protection is the collective responsibility of the whole of government and the community.
  2. Primary responsibility for rearing and supporting children should rest with families and communities, with government providing support where it is needed, either directly or through the funded non-government sector.
  3. The child protection system should be child focused, with the safety, welfare and wellbeing of the child or young persons being of paramount concern, while recognising that supporting parents is usually in the best interests of the child or young person.
  4. Positive outcomes for children and families are achieved through the development of a relationship with the family that recognises their strengths and their needs.
  5. Child safety, attachment, wellbeing and permanency should guide child protection practice.
  6. Support services should be available to ensure that all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people are safe and connected to family, community and culture.
  7. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should participate in decision making concerning the care and protection of their children and young persons with as much self-determination as is possible, and steps should be taken to empower local communities to that end.
  8. Assessments and interventions should be evidence-based, monitored and evaluated.

As a result Keep Them Safe represents a change in perspective and practice for many workers who come into contact with children, young people and families.

So what does this mean in practice?

In NSW child protection is everybody’s business and not just the responsibility of the Department of Family and Community Services, Community Services. This includes other NSW Government departments and non-government organisations across the universal, secondary and tertiary service continuum.

As the safety, welfare and wellbeing of children and young people is paramount, organisations and workers within this broader child wellbeing and child protection system must adopt a child-centred perspective in their practice. This means that the needs of the child or young person are placed at the centre of all decisions and services.

This may present some challenges because it could involve changes in concepts, such as “who is my client” and changes in practice, for instance “how does this impact what I do”?

Adult focussed services have an essential role in child wellbeing and protection because they are designed to address issues that are, or could, affect the adult’s parenting capacity. For example, a Family and Domestic Violence worker’s primary client in most circumstances is an adult. However when the adult client has children, the Family and Domestic Violence worker is also required to consider and address issues affecting the safety, welfare and wellbeing of the children.

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