The Department of Communities' (the Department's) duty of care to others requires that special consideration be given when making appropriate care arrangements for children who are a risk to others.
Note: CEO refers to the Chief Executive Officer of the Department.
If it is not possible to avoid placing children who pose a risk to others in care arrangements or group care, a safety plan must be put in place to protect others in the residence. In all cases, the assistant district director (ADD) or district director (DD) must approve the care arrangement.
You must consider the risks that some children may pose to others who live in, visit or work in the residence when placing them in any type of care arrangement, or in situations with others, including:
Children considered a risk to others exhibit one or more of the following risk factors:
These risk factors must be considered in the context of the proposed care arrangement.
The Signs of Safety approach should be used to identify any risks before care arrangements for the child occurs. However, if safety concerns are noted after the child has been placed, an assessment and safety plan should be completed as soon as possible.
You must record a case alert where a child has been assessed as being a risk to others. The case alert provides critical information where an after-hours or emergency care arrangement is required. For further details on how to do this, see entry 4.2 Case alerts.
Children should be supported if they raise safety concerns in relation to other children in a care arrangement. A decision must made to determine if this information requires the development of a safety plan. Any safety plan should consider the safety and wellbeing of the child raising the concerns, as well as the child who may pose a risk to others.
You should inform the senior child protection worker placement services (SCPWPS), their team leader and assistant district director (ADD)/district director (DD) about all risks posed by a child when a care arrangement is proposed.
Once a care arrangement is identified, you must develop a safety plan to address the risks and have it approved by your team leader and ADD/ DD. All relevant stakeholders should be consulted in the development of the safety plan.
Referrals to the Child and Carer Connection Hub (the Hub) for a community sector organisation (CSO) care arrangement must include all available information about the risks posed and safety planning when a care arrangement is requested. The Hub will pass this information to the CSO when the referral is made.
Where the child is able to participate in planning for the care arrangement, he or she should be advised that the information is being shared with the carers and of the terms and conditions under which the care arrangement is to occur.
Situations should be managed so that the Department can balance its duty of care to children who may present a risk and to those clients, staff and caregivers who may be placed at risk as a result of having contact with the child.
The risk some children represent to others requires special consideration when making care arrangements. A safety plan should be developed that is appropriate to the specific circumstances of the care arrangement and the individual child, including strategies for how to manage events such as the child wishing to attend a camp or other residential activity.
It is important that the child participates in the development of the safety plan and he or she must be included in the planning process.
Children, carers and care arrangement providers must be provided with a copy.
The child must be provided with a clear developmentally appropriate explanation of why the safety plan is needed. A copy of the safety plan must be documented and placed on the child's file and shared with the child.
A case alert must be completed in Assist where a child who poses a risk to others and has to be placed in a group care facility due to a lack of other options. The case plan should outline the identified risks and safety plan and be endorsed by the assistant district director/ district director. For further details about creating an alert for a child who poses a risk to others in a care arrangement, see entry 4.2 Case alerts.
The case alert must be removed if the child no longer poses a risk in the care arrangement or another care arrangement is found where he or she will not present a risk to others.
You must make sure carers are aware of the specific risks posed by a child and the safety plan in place to mitigate against these risks. Any person in a care giving role (foster carer, residential care worker, agency carer etc.) must be provided with all relevant information about the child to:
Where people other than carers have contact with the child, the principle of "need to know" should guide disclosure of information. Circumstances which may justify a "need to know" include situations where the child's behaviour constitutes a direct risk to others.
Where a child resides in, or is placed in a small community, such as a remote Aboriginal community, additional precautions may be required to preserve confidentiality of the child's information.
Part of the assessment should include what level of risk the child poses to other children in the care arrangement. If this risk is considered high, the relevant districts managing other children in the care arrangement should be notified. If a safety plan is to be developed due to an emerging risk, the relevant districts for other children in the care arrangement may wish to be involved.
The risk posed to all members of the household must be carefully assessed and recorded.
Care arrangements must not be made until safety factors have been considered and strategies put in place to minimise risk.
A child with a history of using extreme violence or exhibiting harmful sexual behaviours must not be placed in a household where there are younger children, children who are vulnerable due to their developmental levels, or children with a history of previous abuse.
No additional children are to be placed with the carer after a child who presents a risk is placed.
If additional children come to live in the household outside the Department's control (such as family of the carers), the situation must be:
Background information about the child must be provided to carers. Carers should fully understand what will be involved in caring for a child who poses a risk, and what steps they must take to ensure the safety of others, including visitors to the household. The carer's role in managing the behaviour, reinforcing therapeutic interventions, and/or dispensing any medication should also be made clear.
The case plan and safety plan should identify support for the carers and how risk factors will be monitored.
For children in remote Aboriginal communities, consultation must
occur with the Aboriginal practice leader (or other relevant senior Aboriginal
officer) in the district to identify supports for the carer
and to protect other children in the community.
It will not always be possible to avoid placing children who pose a risk to others in the same residential group home as other children, especially in urgent situations or when the risk is not yet known. However, children with a history of extreme violence or sexual assault should not be placed where there are younger children, children who have developmental delays, or children who are especially vulnerable for other reasons (such as previous abuse).
If placing the child is unavoidable, a safety plan must be developed and implemented.
In emergencies, when it is unavoidable for a child who poses a risk to others to be placed in residential care with other children, extreme caution
must be taken and a comprehensive safety plan developed to safeguard others in the home.
Safety plans developed to mitigate the risks involved
in placing a child in a care arrangement where they may pose a risk to other
children, must be approved by the Director Residential Care, or by the
ADD/DD of the district managing the child who poses the risk. This safety plan
should also be shared with the districts managing other children in the care arrangement.
All safety plans must note if the young person is
Where possible, include strategies to mitigate risks associated with absconding, such as checking that the young person has access to a mobile phone with data and reminding the young person who to call in an emergency or if they feel unsafe.
Whenever children or families move across district boundaries, or there is a change in the care arrangement, all relevant parties must receive comprehensive information about the background of the case, a copy of the case plan and care plan (for children in the CEO's care), and the safety plan before the transfer takes place.
Where a child is placed with a carer in another district, a copy of the care plan and safety plan must be forwarded to the SCPWPS responsible for providing support to the carer. This information must also be provided when a case is transferred interstate.