Child protection and wellbeing

Child Protection and Child Wellbeing Vision

Children First and foremost – working in partnership to promote safety, minimise the impacts of harm and improve well-being of children and young people.

Protecting children is everyone’s business

The Sydney Children’s Hospital Network is committed to promoting the health and well-being of children who may be at risk of harm due to neglect, physical, sexual and emotional abuse, and domestic violence through excellence and leadership in assessment, treatment, prevention, education, advocacy, and research.

The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network provides a number of specialty services to respond to the safety, welfare and wellbeing needs of children and young people and to support health & other workers in fulfilling their child protection and wellbeing responsibilities.

Health worker responsibilities

All health workers have professional and legal responsibilities to promote the health, safety, welfare and well-being of children and young people, working collaboratively in the shared system of child protection in NSW.

It is important for all Health workers to be able to recognise child wellbeing or child protection concerns and to know what action to take, to address concerns as early as possible, before issues escalate.

Health workers should also be alert to situations where intervention is required because chronic and complex health care needs of children and young people, (or their parents / carers) are impacting on their safety, welfare and wellbeing.

 The key responsibilities of health workers in relation to child wellbeing and child protection are as follows.

  • Act on any safety, welfare or wellbeing concern you have.
  • Collaborate with other health workers and agencies and share information (16A) to promote the safety, welfare and wellbeing of children or young people. Take reasonable steps to coordinate services provided.
  • Meet reporting requirements for children or young people at suspected risk of significant harm (ROSH) to the Child Protection Helpline, or contacting the Child Wellbeing Unit.
  • Report unborn children where they may be at suspected ROSH after their birth.
  • Respond to the needs of children, young people and families after making a child protection report.
  • Respond to Community Services, the Children’s Court or Police requests to provide a health service, including medical examination & treatment, or to assist in Court proceedings.
  • Meet requirements re. Working with Children Checks and preventing & responding to ‘reportable conduct’.
  • Follow the NSW Health Policies & Procedures including: use of the Mandatory Reporter Guide, responding to High Risk Birth Alerts, escalation of child protection concerns, out of home care health assessments and assumption of care by Community Services.

If you are concerned about a child or young person known to you in your capacity as mandatory reporter who is at suspected risk of significant harm due to abuse or neglect you should make a report to the Community Services Child Protection Helpline on 133627. The Helpline is available 24 hours per day 7 days per week to take reports.

Child Protection Units (CPU)

 There are two Child Protection Units located in the Children’s Hospitals at Westmead and Randwick. They provide forensic, medical and counseling health services for children, young people and their families following allegations of child abuse and neglect.  These multi-disciplinary teams include specialist medical and psycho-social health professionals. The CPU’s incorporate NSW Health Sexual Assault Services. They work within and interagency framework in partnership and with shared responsibility with Community Services, Joint Investigation Response Teams (JIRT) and the Police.

Services are provided for children and young people 0-16 years of age.

These include:

  • Forensic, medical and psycho-social assessments following allegations of child abuse and neglect.
  • Medical investigations and treatment.
  • Support and crisis counseling to children, young people  and their families where there has been an allegation of abuse and neglect.
  • Ongoing counseling to children, young people and their families where sexual abuse has been investigated and confirmed by Community Services, Joint Investigation Response Teams  or the Police.
  • Advocacy and case management.
  • Expert court testimony
  • Group work for children and young people who have experienced sexual abuse and for their non-offending caregivers.
  • Assessment and counseling to children under 10 years with problematic sexualized behaviour.
  • Groups for children in out of home care and their carers.
  • Health screening services to children in out-of-home-care with  complex needs and or via  specific referral pathways from Community Services
  • Court preparation and court support programs
  • Professional education and training programs
  • Support and consultation to professionals across NSW

Contact details

Referrals and consultations can be made by contacting the hospital or Unit direct during business hours and speaking to the Intake Worker. Referrals are triaged in relation to the forensic and medical urgency and on the crisis psychosocial needs of the child and family.An after-hours on call service is available 24 hours a day seven days per week for crisis situations. It is staffed by medical and social work staff. The intake worker should be contacted for an appointment time both in and out of hours.

The Children's Hospital at Westmead

Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick

Child Protection Unit

02 9845 2434

02 9382 1412

Switchboard (after hours)

02 9845 0000

02 9382 1111

FAX

02 9845 2495

02 9382 1410

Health Child Wellbeing Units (CWUs)

Child Wellbeing Units help families, children and young people about whom there is a safety, welfare or wellbeing concern to get the help they need sooner. We contribute to building a better, more integrated service system aimed at preventing child abuse and neglect.

The Health Child Wellbeing Unit (CWU), under the auspice of the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network, is a telephone advisory service staffed by child protection professionals. The CWU can be contacted by any public health professional for advice and assistance on a range of matters concerning the safety, welfare and wellbeing of children and young people.

This includes advice about:

  • whether or not concerns constitute suspected risk of significant harm
  • use of the Mandatory Reporter Guide
  • who else a Health worker may need to talk with about providing support and services to a child, young person or family
  • available referral options
  • developing a plan and interventions to address child wellbeing or child protection concerns
  • conversations Health workers could have with clients to achieve better outcomes for children and young people.

The CWU will confirm over the phone and /or by email your contact with the CWU, provide a summary of agreed actions and any additional information about service providers or options. Aboriginal workers are available at the CWU to assist in providing a culturally appropriate response for Aboriginal clients.  Workers can ask whether an Aboriginal Assessment Officer is available when they ring the CWU.

NSW Health Child Wellbeing Units can be contacted on by public health workers on 1300 480 420 between 8.30 am and 5.30 pm, Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays. After hours, health workers can provide initial advice, via email, fax or telephone messaging about a child wellbeing or protection concern, which will be followed up on the next business day.

Go to:  After Hours CWU Contact Form