Regular, high quality individual supervision in case practice supports children in the CEO's care to have improved life chances, protects them from abuse and neglect and supports family and individuals at risk or in crisis to manage their lives and keep themselves and their families safe.
Supervision is an essential part of supporting staff and promoting good service delivery. All staff must receive regular supervision, with the focus and content varying to reflect the person's position. Consultation is not supervision and must not be recorded as such.
Note: CEO refers to the Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Communities (the Department) and 'staff' refers to all child protection service delivery staff.
There are four key focus areas that supervision in case practice and service delivery needs to address.
Case practice and service delivery planning
Progressing individual cases and service delivery work through supervision involves:
Child protection practice frameworks included in the Casework Practice Manual (CPM) provide the main reference points for reviewing practice.
Supervision provides an opportunity for both supervisors and supervisees to review workload issues.
For case workers, the allocation of cases considers:
Managing for performance including administrative requirements and accountability
It is the supervisor’s role to identify, communicate and manage performance issues, and provide an opportunity for supervisees to improve their work performance in a reasonable timeframe.
Managing performance through supervision involves:
Where a performance concern has been identified, the supervisor will address it in supervision and record this in the Supervision Record. Where performance concerns are not able to be addressed in supervision meetings, the supervisor may need to consider a performance improvement process.
The most effective learning occurs through undertaking day-to-day work. Supervision enables learning through encouraging critical reflection, skills practice and problem solving on real cases. Collectively these strategies drive continuous learning and improvement.
Learning and development focusses on a range of issues depending on the individual’s needs and include:
Issues raised as part of LETS TALK Performance (link in related resources), supervision and managing for performance can be used to inform learning and development needs.
Supervision discussions track the progress of specific tasks or learning and development requirements identified during the LET's TALK Performance bi-annual sessions.
Support function: Building emotional and psychological health and resilience
Child protection work carries inherent stresses including the vicarious trauma of working with vulnerable and at risk children, young people and families. Anxiety may arise due to the potential danger for children and working with uncertainty. Supervision is a primary means of addressing the stress and anxiety of the work.
Managing the work on an ongoing basis requires staff to be emotionally and psychologically healthy and resilient. Building emotional and psychological health and resilience is a core focus of supervision and needs to have a deliberate focus on managing the stress and anxiety of the work, which includes:
The Corporate Health Framework, Wellness@Work, outlines our approach for building and maintaining positive workplaces, and practical strategies to support staff to look after their own wellbeing.
This aspect of supervision relates closely to the managerial function, and therefore it is provided by the supervisor. Mediation can include:
The following tools (in related resources) may be useful for supervisors:
Group supervision involves multiple staff, with all participants actively working on aspects of practice for currently open cases or service delivery work.
The supervisor will generally lead group supervision, although other case practice leaders may also facilitate this mode of supervision.
Group supervision may be used for:
Individual supervision must be provided by the supervisor and includes formal scheduled supervision sessions and informal unscheduled discussions.
Individual formal supervision is used to discuss:
All staff working with Aboriginal families must have access to ongoing supervision to increase their cultural competence. The purpose of this is to provide the best possible service to clients and community by building the worker’s knowledge, skills, insight and wisdom in working with Aboriginal children, families and communities.
The following prompt questions may assist and guide this discussion:
This is an important element for all Aboriginal staff and needs to be recognised as a part of the supervision process. The purpose of cultural supervision is to build cultural safety for Aboriginal staff by acknowledging the impact of colonisation, managing bi-cultural relationships, and reflect on the ways in which child protection work and the history of the Stolen Generation Policies can impact on Aboriginal staff.
Cultural supervision recognises that some aspects of cultural support and connection can only be gained and shared between Aboriginal people. It acknowledges that cultural meaning, tradition, relationships, and ways of working will be different from mainstream norms and belief systems.
Cultural supervision recognises the need for Aboriginal staff to have additional processes to support their cultural identity. Whilst it is an important aspect of supervision for Aboriginal staff it does not replace individual supervision.
The development of a supervision agreement provides the opportunity to discuss and agree to the formal supervision requirements (responsibilities, structure and recording). The roles and responsibilities of supervisee and supervisor will be clarified and reviewed as needed. If the supervisee and supervisor cannot agree on the requirements of supervision, the supervisor should discuss and develop strategies with their line manager.
This agreement is regularly reviewed, at least annually, as a separate task from the LET's TALK Performance session. Examples of circumstances where a review of the supervision agreement is warranted include: when the supervisee change role/location or when there is a change of supervisor.
Refer to the Supervision agreement template (in related resources).
Supervisors and supervisees have the opportunity to clarify individual responsibilities within their supervisory relationship. This includes a discussion of prior supervisory experiences and their value.
The supervisor's responsibilities are to:
The supervisee's responsibilities are to:
Refer to Supervision record template (in related resources).
Structure of supervision
As part of developing the supervision agreement, the supervisee and supervisor discuss:
The agenda could include the following:
Discuss the circumstances where interruptions to supervision will be permitted, for example unplanned priority work, illness, emergencies and/or leave arrangements. In these circumstances a revised date is to be set.
Consultation is a day-to-day activity that is part of progressing case practice and service delivery work and supports staff learning and emotional wellbeing. However, it is not supervision and the occurrence of frequent consultation is not the same as having constituted supervision.
Informal and formal advice sought from the supervisor on an ad hoc basis will occur frequently, usually in relation to seeking an immediate approval or case practice/service delivery direction, and on occasion for personal learning or support.
Regular cultural consultation is a requirement for all staff providing services to Aboriginal and culturally and linguistically diverse families in child protection. The formal legislative and case practice and service delivery requirements for cultural consultation are set out in the Children and Community Services Act (2004), and the CPM.
Formal and informal consultation with specialist colleagues such as psychologists, senior practice development officers, Aboriginal practice leaders, and education officers will occur on a needs basis to inform case practice and service delivery.
Informal consultation and debriefing with colleagues can enrich experience and learning.
A mutually respectful relationship forms the basis of quality supervision. Integral to this is the need for the supervision process and information exchanged to be confidential. This is particularly important in relation to information regarding performance issues or personal issues which may be impacting on a staff member’s ability to perform their tasks. This may include indirect trauma resulting from exposure to the complexity of our work including working with client’s anger, grief and loss, managing dysfunctions within families and working generally in the child protection field.
There may be circumstances where the DD or other relevant staff may need to be made aware of information resulting from the supervision process. In these cases the employee must be advised and the matter discussed prior to the information being shared.
When the employee transfers to another area, the new supervisor will have access to their supervision record of matters other than case practice and service delivery decisions.
Staff and supervisors are expected to proactively raise and resolve issues openly within the supervisory relationship. Where issues remain unresolved, discussion and resolution takes place with a relevant senior manager.
Refer to the formal Workplace issue and grievance resolution process as set out in the Administration Manual for further information.
The two types of recording are:
Case practice and service delivery matters
The supervisor’s decisions about case management/service delivery must be identifiable on the case file for legal and quality assurance purposes.
As part of formal individual supervision, case plans are reviewed and updated by case workers and supervisors. Where case plans are made or changed/reviewed during supervision, the case worker records this in Assist under the category of Case Plan Supervision. The reason selected for the forum of the Case Plan Supervision is either:
There are a range of options to record case practice/service delivery matters and decisions on Assist, which occur outside of supervision such as:
Matters other than case practice and service delivery decisions
Matters other than case practice and service delivery decisions are be recorded in the Supervision Record (in related resources) and uploaded to the Performance Management Tracking System.
Information recorded could include:
The supervisor documents this information and the supervisee co-signs. If there is disagreement, note it in the template. This information is then used when reviewing and planning the annual LET's TALK Performance session (link in related resources).
Where performance concerns are being addressed through supervision, supervisors must complete relevant documentation, such as the Performance Observation Log or the Performance Improvement Action Plan.
Performance Management Tracking System
District directors regularly review the Performance Management Tracking System to monitor whether staff are receiving regular supervision.
Supervision Records can only be stored on the Performance Management Tracking System.
The documents are added monthly and are only accessible by the supervisee and their supervisor.
For further information refer to the Performance Management Tracking System User Guide (in related resources).