Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
NSW to adopt new child protection system from -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

NSW to adopt new child protection system from January

Brendan Trembath reported this story on Wednesday, December 2, 2009 12:34:00

ELEANOR HALL: Several notorious cases of child neglect have forced the New South Wales Government
to find a new way of identifying children at risk of significant harm.

The state commissioned an international child protection expert to design a list of questions for
teachers, police and doctors and nurses to ask themselves if they suspect that a child has been

As Brendan Trembath reports, the Government has now introduced the innovative system.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Next month New South Wales begins a new child protection system.

It follows highly publicised cases of child neglect, such as the two-year-old boy whose body was
found in a duck pond in south-western Sydney in October 2007.

The following month a seven-year-old girl was found dead in her home north of Newcastle.

She had starved to death.

LINDA BURNEY: Now both of those cases there were real questions about where the Government could've
intervened and perhaps saved those children's lives.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: The New South Wales Minister for Community Services Linda Burney.

She says the state will adopt a world first approach for identifying and reporting child abuse.

LINDA BURNEY: So every single person in New South Wales that's a mandatory reporter - they're
nurses, police, health workers, teachers - will have the same instrument, or the same process for
making decisions about where a child needs to be referred to. There are things called decision
trees and I've got one in front of me at the moment.

The first question is, "Do you think this child is being physically abused?" If the answer is yes
you go to another box that says, "Has there been any disclosure by the child about abuse within the
home?" If the answer is yes then the next box says, "Report immediately to community services"
because that child is at significant risk of harm.

If on the other hand the answer is no it will lead you to a different decision.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: The New South Wales Minister for Community Services is optimistic about the new
system, but she's also realistic about the scale of the problem.

LINDA BURNEY: Is this system going to stop every child death? I don't think any system in the whole
world stops every child death. Will this system mean that there will be more support, urgent
support to families that need it and children that need it? The answer is yes.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: The standard questions which will soon be asked in New South Wales have been
designed by the US child protection expert Dr Raelene Freitag.

She's the director of the Children's Research Centre.

RAELENE FREITAG: We kind of fool ourselves sometimes into thinking if we had more information we
could make a better decision, and it turns out that if you know the right pieces if information to
get you can usually make a better decision more efficiently.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: So these are like clues. You might never have the complete picture but you do
have clues in front of you.

RAELENE FREITAG: That's exactly right.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Reporting suspected child abuse promptly is vital but authorities have to also
ensure cases are followed up as soon as possible.

The Queensland Government has today defended delays in the time taken by its child safety officers
to see children at risk of being abused.

The Government says a number of the families it works with are very mobile and sometimes they move
to avoid the child safety system.

ELEANOR HALL: Brendan Trembath reporting.