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Initial responsibilities for NGO caseworkers

What are my record keeping and reporting responsibilities?

When a child’s disclosure is brought to the attention of the NGO caseworker, it is important to ensure that the information is accurately recorded and reported to appropriate bodies. NGO caseworkers should keep written records of all conversations, actions and decisions (and reasons for decisions). These records should be signed and dated and include what was said, where, when and by whom.

Foster carers should also keep a record of the disclosure. Caseworkers may need to ask foster carers some clarifying questions to establish the extent of risk and harm that has occurred.

An assessment of risk should be made at the time of the initial disclosure and should be recorded and updated regularly, particularly when new or additional information is obtained. Any risk management action must be taken with the clearance of, or in liaison with DCJ or JCPR Program staff. Taking action without clearance from investigative agencies may result in damaging criminal or other investigative processes with adverse effects on the ongoing safety of children and young people.

NGO caseworkers need to consider:

  • Has a report been made to the Child Protection Helpline? It is recommended that the Mandatory Reporter Guide (MRG) is applied to guide your decision making about whether or not to make a report to the Child Protection Helpline.
  • Is there an immediate risk of harm? If there is, or if it is alleged that a sexual offence has occurred within the last five days, contact your local police.
  • What are the internal reporting requirements of your agency? The disclosure may require reporting to the Office of the NSW Ombudsman and the Office of the Children’s Guardian.

How can I support my carers?

The process of a child’s disclosure can be distressing and stressful for all parties. It is important that caseworkers provide the necessary support and guidance for the foster carer. This in turn will enable foster carers to provide the day to day support and care to the child or young person. It is also important that caseworkers access the appropriate supervision or professional support to assist them in their responsibilities.

Caseworkers need to ensure that the foster carers they support are confident about:

  • how to identify a disclosure of abuse and potential signs of abuse
  • how to appropriately respond to a child making the disclosure
  • the appropriate recording and reporting mechanisms.

What if the disclosure raises concerns about an OOHC NGO carer?

When a disclosure involves the behaviour of a carer, the OOHC NGO has additional responsibilities under the Ombudsman Act 1974. For full details of OOHC NGO’s responsibilities under this Act and what constitutes reportable conduct, please contact the Office of the NSW Ombudsman.

OOHC NGOs also need to ensure that they update the Carers Register when a reportable allegation is made. For full details of OOHC NGO’s responsibilities in relation to the Carers Register, please contact the Office of Children’s Guardian.

In addition to reporting and investigating responsibilities, the OOHC NGO must assess and manage risks in relation to the carer. It is important that the OOHC NGO does not take any risk management or investigative action until liaison and clearance is gained from JCPR Program staff. The Office of the NSW Ombudsman can provide practical advice and support in relation to the management of these processes.

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Last updated: 21 Oct 2019