Child Protection Services Redesign - Fact Sheet 3

Final Report from the Child Protection Redesign Reference Group


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The Child Protection Redesign Reference Group has undertaken an extensive consultation process, talking to and receiving submissions from over 300 stakeholders, in order to inform and develop the themes that guided the redesign process. The Final Report of the Reference Group was endorsed on 3 March 2016.

The Redesign Reference Group found that the Tasmanian child protection system, like similar systems nationally and internationally, is facing increasing pressure from rising notification rates, increased complexities and growing costs in terms of children being placed into out of home care. It also found that despite numerous reports, reviews and inquiries, and a variety of incremental changes Tasmania has not been able to achieve the level of reform required to dislodge a range of entrenched issues.

Failure to address the demand, structural and service issues identified during the redesign process will result in ongoing growth in the number of children requiring the attention of child protection services. The Redesign Reference Group has therefore recommended comprehensive action across many areas of the child protection system, including:

Child safety and wellbeing is everyone's business

The statutory child protection system plays a very small, albeit important, role in a broader system for protecting children. The report recommends that a shift of focus is required to recognize the role that child protection services plays as part of a broader collaborative approach that includes families, communities, non-government organisations and government agencies.

Building a common understanding of risk

Child protection was once a service dedicated to preventing the physical abuse and harm of children, primarily through the separation of the child from the perpetrator. We are now more acutely aware of the psychological and emotional harm to children both in the home, and importantly, when children are taken out of the home.

Tasmania must build greater cohesion and a shared understanding of risks across the network of services that make up the system for protecting children.

Growing capacity and getting help early

Building strength in children and their families requires a coordinated effort. Consultation highlighted that Tasmania lacks a robust mechanism for primary services to work together. The report recommends that more effective mechanisms are built for collaboration across services networks, including promoting opportunities for joint training and learning opportunities. The report also recommends a review of all family support services to ensure that they deliver the correct balance of primary and secondary services.

Managing the Front Door

Close management of the front door of child protection services is essential to facilitate service pathways, improve effectiveness and reduce pressure on statutory protective services. The report recommends that the current intake service be refocused to an advice and referral service which is managed on a statewide basis and is connected to the broader government and non-government service network; that partnerships are developed between CPS and key notifying agencies to improve management of notifications at the point of intake/response and that the relationship between CPS and Gateways is reviewed.

Intensive support for children and families at risk of statutory action

The report identifies a significant gap in the ability of child protection services to support families who are on the brink of entering the statutory system. As a result, many children are ending up in out of home care due to circumstances that could be avoided if they and their families received earlier intensive support. The report recommends the government work with the non-government sector to develop an assertive family support service, with interim measures that will allow CPS to broker services directly for families in crisis.

Re-focus on protection and safety within CPS

The redesign of the child protection system must deliver improved outcomes for responding to and managing children that are the subject of a child protection order. This can be achieved by focussing in three areas: restructuring child protection services to ensure that teams are accountable and empowered to drive effective outcomes for children and families; supporting effective decision-making in child protection services; and minimising non-productive time through improvement to core systems and fit-for-purpose infrastructure. The report includes a rage of recommendations relating to improved structure and personal, professional and system-based support for workers within the child protection system.

Where to from here?

The Government supports all of the recommendations, in principle, in the report and has committed $20 million towards its implementation. A more detailed response from Government, including an implementation plan is expected over the coming months.

Implementation, including detailed planning will involve comprehensive consultation and engagement with key stakeholders. The delivery of the redesign will be staged to assist with this process.
Other projects that are being undertaken concurrently with the redesign, including the Youth at Risk Strategy, the Out of Home Care review and Safe Families Tasmania will need to be further consulted and linkages explored as part of the implementation process.

How can I find out more information?

The Final Report can be found on the CPS Redesign webpage

For more information please contact the project team on cpsredesignteam@dhhs.tas.gov.au