Protecting our most vulnerable children

Decrease the proportion of children and young people re-reported at risk of significant harm by 20% by 2023.

Young girl on swing

Why is this important?

Children and young people deserve to have the best possible start in life and to live free from abuse and neglect. Once a child has been reported at ‘risk of significant harm’, child protection practitioners support families to create change and provide safer homes for their children. 

Focusing on re-reporting is important because a reduction in re-reports demonstrates that the support being provided to vulnerable families is effective in making children safer. 

Achieving this Premier’s Priority will result in 20% fewer children and young people re-reported to the child protection system by 2023. 

How are we tracking?
 

Re-reporting has a number of complex drivers. It is a measure that captures the outcomes of the Department of Communities and Justice’s work with families as well as the collaboration between government and non-government service providers to identify and respond to risk concerns in NSW.

Over the past decade numerous factors have contributed to a consistent year-on-year increase in ‘risk of significant harm’ reports, many of which are re-reports. An increased level of community reporting (as a result of greater public awareness) places upward pressure on the re-report rate. Re-reports have risen 1.5 percentage points since baseline. This trend prompted a review of re-report mechanisms, which identified the need for the system improvements that we began rolling out in March 2021. It will take time for these initiatives to impact the target. 

We are actively responding to the changing circumstances that have arisen during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that we continue to provide essential support to children and families despite restrictions and lockdowns. We are also closely monitoring the available data, due to concerns that the pandemic and resulting lockdowns could lead to heightened risks for children and young people. 
 

Download the Protecting our most vulnerable children data information sheet (PDF, 235.64 KB)

 

What are we doing? 

Protecting our children was a Premier's Priority during the last term of government. Much was done to improve practice and lower re-reports during that time, leading to better outcomes for many children in NSW. 

While maintaining a focus on high quality casework practice, our approach for meeting this Priority has broadened to include optimisation across the whole-of-system. This means we are working more collaboratively with our service sector and all parts of the child protection system - reporting and triage, casework and case closure - to ensure better outcomes for our most vulnerable children. 

There are 3 new areas of focus to ensure better outcomes for our most vulnerable children: 

Improving assessment of risk of significant harm (ROSH) reports

Improvements to the information captured at the Child Protection Helpline means that risk assessments will be more accurate, reports will be prioritised more effectively, and more time can be spent providing services and support to the families with the highest needs. 

Improving specific casework practices

We are engaging more with our service sector to provide the best opportunity for vulnerable children and their families to receive targeted and ongoing support. More effective referrals means that families have a better chance of engaging with, and benefiting from, the support service that is most appropriate to their needs. We are also implementing ways to measure, assess and improve the quality of casework and ensure continuous improvement, to get better long-term outcomes for vulnerable children. 

Enhancing Future Safety

We are ensuring that the right services and supports are in place before we end our engagement with a family to safeguard the future safety for children and young people. We are also strengthening our relationship with local service providers to support earlier interventions before the risk escalates to risk of significant harm. 

Do you need help?

Are you a parent or carer needing help? 

Call Parent Line NSW for general counselling and information on 1300 130 052. The line is open 9am to 9pm Monday to Friday and 4pm to 9pm weekends. 

Do you know someone who needs help? 

  • report suspected abuse (physical, sexual or emotional) to the Child Protection Helpline on 132 111 (TTY 1800 212 936) 
  • call the Domestic Violence Line on 1800 656 463. The line is open 24/7. 

Are you a young person who needs help? 

  • if you are in immediate danger, call 000 
  • to talk about anything call the Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 
  • to discuss care arrangements, call the CREATE Foundation on 1800 655 105
  • for legal assistance, call Legal Aid NSW's Youth Hotline on 1800 101 810
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