Child protection protocols still under review

Update on Terms of Reference for Review of APY Child Protection Protocols.

Following our last post on 21 August 2014 (Child protection protocols still under review – with or without terms of reference?), indicating that the Paper Tracker was still awaiting the Terms of Reference for the Review of the APY Child Protection Protocols, these Terms of Reference were received on 2 October 2014.5

In their totality, the Terms of Reference are as follows:

  1. Review the operation of the protocols since their implementation.
  2. Identify and make changes to the protocols which would improve their effectiveness and efficiency by addressing issues or gaps that are identified through the interagency review process.
  3. Identify other plans or guidelines that require development to support the implementation of the protocols.

The Paper Tracker has requested a status update from the Department for Education and Child Development regarding the Review and will provide information on this once it is received.

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Child protection protocols still under review – with or without terms of reference?

In October 2013, the South Australian Government commenced a review of its APY child protection protocols1 in response to the Mullighan Commission of Inquiry. These protocols have been operational since 20112 and provide a ‘framework’ for the way government agencies and non-government organisations respond to child protection notifications.

The current review of the protocols is chaired by the South Australian Commissioner for Victims’ Rights (Mr Michael O’Connell) and includes representatives from a number of agencies3.

The Paper Tracker has repeatedly requested that the Department for Education and Child Development provide it with the Terms of Reference for this Review, an update on the progress of this Review and information about child protection staffing on the APY Lands.

These requests were made on 12 and 17 December 2013, 7 February 2014, and 3 April, 19 June and 21 august 20144.

On 17 December 2013, the Department advised the Paper Tracker that it expects the review to be completed by August 2014.

The Department has still not provided the Paper Tracker with a copy of the Review’s Terms of Reference, commenting in December and February that these were “currently in draft form”.

The Paper Tracker remains concerned that the Review of the child protection protocols is being undertaken in the absence of approved and publically available Terms of Reference and that little or no information is being provided regarding the progress and outcomes of the Review process. Given that these protocols are also required to hold each agency accountable for its role in the provision of services to children and young people who have been or who are at risk of being abused or neglected, the lack of Terms of Reference during the current heightened levels of child protection notifications and concerns about the safety of children and the inadequacy of the response of service agencies, are all the more worrying.

The Paper Tracker has been monitoring the development and operation of the protocols since June 2012.

References

1. Government of South Australia. November 2013, “Fifth Annual Report by the Minister for Education and Child Development to the Children on Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands Commission of Inquiry: a report into sexual abuse”, p20

2. Government of South Australia. November 2013, “Fifth Annual Report by the Minister for Education and Child Development to the Children on Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands Commission of Inquiry: a report into sexual abuse”, p20.

3. Including representatives of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, Child Protection Services, Nganampa Health Council, Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women’s Council, SA Police, Department for Communities and Social Inclusion and Department for Education and Child Development. See: Hannon, K (Department for Education and Child Development). 17 December 2013. Email to J. Nicholls. Also: Government of South Australia. November 2013, “Fifth Annual Report by the Minister for Education and Child Development to the Children on Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands Commission of Inquiry: a report into sexual abuse”, p20.

4. Various emails from Nicholls, J (Paper Tracker). 12 December and 17 December 2013 and 7 February 2014 and from Tilley, S (Paper Tracker) on 3 April, 19 June and 21 August 2014. Emails to K. Hannon and Paul Adams (Department for Education and Child Development).

5. Email from Linnell Barelli, Lead Program Officer, Country Directorate, Department for Education and Child Development – Families SADECD, 2 October 2014.

The Paper Tracker works hard to provide accurate and up-to-date information. We will correct any inaccurate information as soon as it is brought to our attention. Please contact us if you have additional information or can provide us with an update.