Victoria’s child protection system is the frontline in protecting children from abuse, harm or neglect.
Child Protection receives, assesses and investigates reports where children may be at risk of significant abuse or neglect within their family. They also ensure that appropriate services are provided to protect children from harm.
Reports can come from a range of different sources, including professionals such as police, doctors, maternal child health nurses, teachers, neighbours and family members.
Child protection practitioners work with Victoria Police, Ambulance Victoria and a host of other support agencies to help meet the needs of children and make sure they are safe.
After-Hours Child Protection Emergency Service
When Victorians report child abuse or neglect, they expect to be heard. The After-Hours Child Protection Emergency Service is available 24hrs a day to help respond to those reports.
More information can be found on Reporting child abuse and neglect on this website.
Information about Mandatory reporting can be found on the Child Protection page of the Providers website.
The department supports children who cannot live with their birth families, in a family-based or therapeutic setting. This may be in foster care, kinship care, permanent care or residential care.
Out-of-home Care works with community service organisations to manage the care of these children and keep them connected to their family and culture.
More information can be found on the Caring for children page on the Services website.
All families need support to meet their own and their children’s needs. Some families need a family support service when they are experiencing difficulties, that make them more vulnerable, and this impacts on their parenting and family life.
When appropriate, families are linked in with Child FIRST/the Orange Door and family services to provide the support and assistance they need. This equips them in the short-term to care for their children and improves the long-term stability of their family.
More information can be found on the Family support page on the Services website.
Aboriginal children and young people
Aboriginal children and young people are over-represented in Victoria’s child protection and care system.
The department is working with the Aboriginal community and community service organisations to reduce the number of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care by building their connection to culture, country and community.
More information can be found on the Aboriginal self-determination section on this website.
Targeted care packages
The department also works to bring families back together. Through targeted care packages, young people transition from residential care into home environments that best meet their individual needs.
More information can be found on the Leaving care page on the Services website.
Actions and outcomes
Families will be supported to strengthen their capability to safely care for their children. For children who can’t live at home, they will be supported in a family-based or therapeutic setting.
Action: Continued engagement with child and family services to implement changes to the system.
Outcome: Victoria will have a strengthened child and family services system that can respond to the changing needs of families.
Wungurilwil Gapgapduir: Aboriginal Children and Families Agreement and Strategic Action Plan is a landmark partnership between the Aboriginal community, Government and community services organisations to commit to better outcomes for Aboriginal children and young people.
Action: Embed Aboriginal self-determination in child and family services.
Outcome: Aboriginal children and young people in out-of-home care will be better connected to culture, country and community.
- Further information about Aboriginal self-determination on this website
Victoria is implementing a new model of kinship care that better supports kinship carers and improves outcomes for children in kinship care.
Action: Implementing new model of kinship care.
Outcome: Victoria’s kinship placements are more stable, leading to improved outcomes for children in kinship care.
Improving kinship care will also assist in preventing children and young people from entering residential care.
The new model also strengthens community connections for Aboriginal children in care and delivers better, more flexible support.
The Victorian child protection workforce is being strengthened to ensure that practitioners are equipped with the tools and support they need to work with vulnerable children, young people and their families. The Child Protection Workforce Strategy 2017-2020 is guiding the work to strengthen the child protection workforce.
Action: Recruiting an additional 450 child protection practitioners.
Outcome: This is the largest expansion of the child protection workforce in Victoria's history and is designed to help better manage existing workloads, meet rising demand and ultimately keep more Victorian children safe.
On 1 October 2018, the way in which the Department of Health and Human Services provides funding for child and family services will change.
These changes are a part of broader reforms underway to redesign the child and family services system in order to: enable a more seamless and continuous service system enable wrap-around support for clients set up the system for use evidence-based practices and programs and outcomes-focused performance management.
For more information about the reform see the Providers website.
From 27 September, prescribed organisations and services will be empowered through amended Victorian laws to share information more effectively to promote children’s wellbeing and safety, and better manage family violence risk.
What are the new reforms?
The new reforms aim to improve information sharing arrangements between service providers to assist in getting the right information to the right people at the right time. They are the:
- Child Information Sharing Scheme
- Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme
- Family Violence Multi-Agency Risk and Management Framework (MARAM).
More information is available on the Information Sharing and MARAM website.