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4.2.1 Case alerts

Last Modified: 22-Mar-2022 Review Date: 02-Jan-2019

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Legislation

Overview

Alerts are used to inform staff about specific critical information and/or special considerations for the safety and wellbeing of children and families who have had contact with the Department of Communities (the Department). 

Where a critical incident occurs, refer to the Critical Incident Briefing Policy for guidance and effective responses.

There are specific types of alerts, all designed to convey different types of information in different situations. See below for details on when and how to place an alert on Assist.

Before considering placing an alert where you have been unable to locate a family, contact Centrelink and ask for the family's current contact details. Complete the form Request by a child protection agency for information from Centrelink to request this information and send it to: Centrelink.InformationRequests@communities.wa.gov.au

Rules

  • When placing an alert in relation to someone who has been convicted of sexual offences against a child, you must follow the correct language conventions.

  • Where you have not been able to locate a family and there remains significant concerns for the child, you must place an alert on Assist at the time of closure to ensure relevant information is available at the next contact with the Department. 

Process Maps

Information and Instructions

  • Consultation and approvals
  • Local Alerts
  • Interstate Notifications and Alerts
  • Case Alerts
  • Medical Alerts
  • Risk Alerts
  • Information relating to convicted child sex offenders
  • Requests for an Interstate Notification or Alert
  • Consultation and approvals

    Consult with your team leader (TL) to discuss the rationale and proposed content for the alert. After completing the draft alert, send it via Assist for TL approval and save the alert document to the Objective file.  There is a different process for Interstate Notifications and Alerts. Refer to the section below for details on how to complete these types of alerts.

    Information recorded in an alert can be subject to release under the Freedom of Information Act 1992. Therefore, information should be brief, specific, and factual.

    Personal opinions can be considered libellous and should be avoided. 


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    Local Alerts

    ​These are used when you have serious concerns for a child or family who have left their last known address and their current location is unknown.  The alert requests that you are informed immediately if contact is made with the child or family, and a summary of the primary concerns. If the concerns for the child are serious and likely to place the child at imminent risk, this should be noted in the alert.

    An alert requesting contact with the relevant district is not sufficient where the concerns are significant and imminent and the district is not contactable, for example, the family comes to the attention of the Department after-hours.  

    In addition to placing the alert, you may also consider requesting information from Medicare by completing a Request by a Child Protection Agency for information from Medicare (SI042), along with making another Centrelink Request on a later occasion.

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    Interstate Notifications and Alerts

    Interstate Notifications and Alerts are used when you have serious concerns for a child or family and there is reason to believe that the family has left or is planning to leave the State. 

    As with other alerts, you should make attempts to locate the family via Centrelink and Medicare.

    In urgent situations, complete these requests at the same time as the alert and forward Form 661 Request for Interstate/New Zealand Alert to the Interstate Liaison Officer (WA ILO) via WAInterstateLiaison@communities.wa.gov.au.

    Notifications

    Notifications are used when a child or family's location or interstate address is known. Where the address is known, complete Form 903 Request for an Interstate Notification with the new address and email to WAInterstateLiaison@communities.wa.gov.au  

    The WA ILO will liaise with the relevant state's child protection department to record the Notification on their system.   

    Alerts 

    Alerts are used when a child or family's location or interstate address is unknown

    To request that an alert be placed on another state's child protection system, complete Form 661 – Request for Interstate/New Zealand Alert and email it to the WA ILO: WAInterstateLiaison@communities.wa.gov.au

    Recording an Interstate Alert on Assist does not mean that an Alert has been created and forwarded to other jurisdictions.  

    All child protection departments have their own client information systems and requests for Interstate Alerts are actioned through each jurisdiction's Interstate Liaison Officer (ILO).

    For more information, refer to the Consultation draft - Updated Information Sharing Protocol between the Commonwealth and Child Protection Agencies 2019 (the Protocol) (in related resources) and chapter 3.4 Interstate and New Zealand liaison. 

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    Case Alerts

    ​Case Alerts are used to warn staff that there is more critical information available about a case. Case alerts can be used to advise that contact should be made with the designated child protection worker, or that specific action should occur if the child/family come to the attention of the Department.

    Situations where a case alerts should be used include, but are not limited to, the following examples:

    • A child in the CEO's care has been placed in a care arrangement and may pose a risk to other children. The alert should summarise the management plan and specific risks posed by that child, as well as details of an appropriate alternative care arrangement in an emergency.

    • There is an end of life plan for a child in the CEO's care who is terminally ill. The details of this plan should be summarised and contact details of people who should be contacted included. Once the child has been moved from the care arrangement or it has been determined they no longer pose a significant risk to others, the alert should be removed.

    • Where a person has offenses against them, and it has been assessed that they are likely to pose a risk to a child but where the criteria for recording them as AHCR were not met.

    • Where a pregnant woman is close to her due date and there are significant concerns for the safety of the unborn infant, but her location is unknown, and she is refusing to engage with the Department. Significant decisions about the case should be included, such as any decision to enact statutory action following the birth. In these circumstances you should also consider submitting an Action Request to Statewide Referral and Response Service (SRRS).

    See chapter 2.2 After-hours Action Request for more information on how and when to submit an Action Request to SRRS.

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    Medical Alerts

    Medical Alerts are only used for children and provide information about a child's medical conditions to staff.  

    Medical Alerts should alert workers that a child has a medical issue that could become an emergency and where they will need to find important information very quickly, e.g. where a child has a peanut allergy, diabetes, or asthma. It should also be used where a child has a serious bloodborne illness that could pose a worker safety issue, such as Hepatitis or HIV/AIDS.  

    The purpose of a Medical Alert is to provide vital information quickly, to a worker who may be unfamiliar with the case.

    All health information about a child in the CEO's care should be thoroughly documented in the child's Child Information Portal and their Health care plan.


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    Risk Alerts

    Risk alerts do not contain a dialogue box to add additional detail or context related to the concern, or any ability to provide case direction. Risk alerts can only advise you that the five specific concerns noted are present. See below for further details of the five categories of Risk Alerts:

    Conviction for Violence Alert

    This will advise that an individual has been convicted of a violent crime.

    Observed Violence Alert:

    To be used where an individual has been seen conducting a violent action or behaviour, but where there are no known convictions.

    Hearsay Violence Alert:

    To be used when the worker has been advised an individual has been violent or has a history of violence, but there is no evidence of violence outside of hearsay.

    Misconduct Restraining Order:
    This alert will advise that an individual has a restraining order out against them for violent, aggressive and/or intimidating behaviours, but where the alleged victim is not a family member.

    Family and Domestic Violence Restraining Order:

    This alert is to be used where an individual has a Family and Domestic Violence Restraining Order out against them. This type of order indicates the individual has or has threatened to harm a family member and/or poses a risk to their family members. 

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    Information relating to convicted child sex offenders

    When recording information about a convicted child sex offender, you must not refer to the following agencies, or any information relating to the offender and their relationship with these agencies:

    • Sex Offender Management Squad (SOMS).
    • National Child Offender System (NCOS) (formally known as ANCOR).

    The SOMS is a unit of the Western Australia Police Force (WA Police Force) who manage individuals who are required to report under the Community Protection (Offender Reporting) Act 2004 (CPOR Act). The details of individuals and information about them is gathered in WA from the CPOR Act is shared and placed on the NCOS register.

    There are restrictions under the CPOR Act as to who may access and/or share information about individuals on the NCOS register. It is an offence to disclose information about individuals on the NCOS register without authorisation. It is imperative to treat any information disclosed carefully, including in case notes and elsewhere on Assist.

    You must:

    • request information from WA Police via a s.23 request for information regarding the offender's criminal record

    • refer to the offender as having been convicted of 'xxx offence' (e.g. Joe Blogs was convicted of indecent dealings with a child under 13)

    • record all contacts with SOMS as 'the relevant section in the Western Australia Police', and 

    • when placing an alert on Assist, write as 'Person referred by WA Police who has been convicted of (name the offence) - e.g. 'indecent dealings with a child under 13'.


    Actively seek out information from the Department of Justice and request prescribed reports under s.24A of the Act. These reports will include:

    • court, pre-sentencing, and pre-release reports
    • psychological reports
    • prisoner management reports, and

    any other report made under the High Risk Serious offenders Act 2020, Bail Act 1982, Sentence Administration Act 2003, the Sentencing Act 1995, the Prisons Act 1981, the Young Offenders Act 1994 or Dangerous Sex offenders Act 2006.

    Refer to chapter 4.2 Working with other agencies – memoranda of understanding and information sharing for more information on accessing prescribed reports from the Department of Justice. 


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    Requests for an Interstate Notification or Alert

    Request an Interstate Notification or Alert to be placed on the relevant interstate and New Zealand agency systems when:

    • you become aware that a child with an open case or the subject of a child protection concern has moved interstate to a known address, or

    • you have serious concerns about the welfare of a child or young person who is suspected to be interstate, but who's exact location is unknown.

    If the interstate address is known, or becomes known to you, complete Form 903 Request for an Interstate Notification with the current address of the child and family, and email it to: WAInterstateLiaison@communities.wa.gov.au 

    The WA ILO will liaise with the relevant jurisdiction.

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