When the Department of Communities (the Department) receives information that raises concerns about a child's safety, it has a responsibility to consider if further action should be taken. All action taken by the Department must adhere to legislative requirements set out in the Children and Community services Act 2004 (the Act).
For information relating to Initial Inquiries refer to Chapter 2.2 Initial Inquiry.
For further information about ASSIST recording please refer to the Assist User Guides – Create an Interaction.
Note: CEO refers to the Chief Executive Officer of the Department.
You must use the Interaction Tool for all new referrals of concern for a child to assist in determining whether the Department has a further role.
Referrals of concern for children in the metropolitan area are usually processed by the Statewide Referral and Response Service (SRRS), unless the concerns are in relation to a child already in the CEO's care or part of an open family group. In these instances, the district already case managing the family should process the concerns. Where information has been received by SRRS about an open family group, contact the relevant district to plan while will complete the ASSIST work.
Regional and remote referrals are processed by the district Child Safety Teams (CSTs).
Emergency referrals after hours are received by the SRRS (Crisis Care Unit).
Referrals come to the Department via email, telephone, in-person and from a variety of sources including, but not limited to:
If the referral relates to an unborn infant or a child aged 0-2 years, you
must consider the guidance in Chapter
2.2 High risk infants, focusing on what risk and protective factors may be relevant to your assessment. The resource
Determining the risk factors for an infant may be helpful to identify possible risk and protective factors.
When you are aware that a parent is pregnant and you have received concerns, create an Assist ID for an unborn infant. This should be completed even when the outcome is No further action (NFA).
Written referrals from the metropolitan area should be made using Form 442 - Child Protection Concern Referral Form or 08 9218 5686 (fax).
Referrals for regional and remote areas should be sent to directly to the lead office for that district.
At times the Department is contacted by professionals, such as WA Police or the Department of Health, seeking information from the Department in relation to a family, parent or child. It is your role to consider any information provided as you would any other referral. There may be child protection concerns which have not been explicitly raised by the caller. As with other referrals, complete a history check and gather further relevant information from the caller.
Refer to Chapter
4.2 Working with other agencies – memoranda of understanding and information sharing for further information.
Offer an interpreter when a you receive a call from a referrer who is not proficient or confident in their use of English.
Consider using an interpreter where a referral has been received and further information is required from someone who is not proficient in English.
4.2 Language services – booking and payment for more information.
Who receives referrals?
Most referrals are received by the SRRS. District offices may receive 'walk-ins' on occasion (clients presenting at reception to refer concerns). Unless there is a specific reason the district is not able to, and it has been agreed with the SRRS, the local district should manage and assess any concerns raised by people attending a district office. Alternatively, a duty officer at a metropolitan office may discuss and document concerns being reported and forward the information via email to the SRRS for further assessment.
District offices are also responsible for managing referrals where the child is already part of an open case being actively case managed.
The local CST receives referrals. There is a local process in place for staff within the CST who receive and action referrals.
The main office in each district receives and actions referrals for all other offices in the district, e.g. Great Southern District CST is based in Albany and receives and processes referrals for their Albany and Katanning offices.
The SRRS (Crisis Care Unit) receives calls outside of work hours who have serious concerns about a child. Calls are also received when a victim of FDV is at risk and requires assistance to manage safety, or in other unforeseen crises. Every call received is treated as a possible referral and is assessed accordingly.
What do we do with referrals?
Responses to referrals
must align with the functions and powers of the CEO set out in sections 9, 21 and 31 of the Act and undertaken by authorised officers. It is your responsibility to consider if there is a role for the Department to:
refer or provide social services to the child or family named in the referral
make any inquiries that are reasonably necessary for the purpose of determining whether action should be taken to safeguard or promote the child's safety and/or wellbeing, or the safety and/or wellbeing of other children, and
take action, or cause other action to be taken, to promote the child's safety and/or wellbeing or the safety and/or wellbeing of other children.
Record all referrals and the subsequent assessment in an Interaction on Assist. Make an outcome decision and record this within two days of receiving a referral.
At a minimum, gather information from the following sources:
The referrer, who can clarify any points as required and may be able to provide additional information.
Assist, which may include records of previous involvement and similar concerns reported by other sources.
The DVIR Triage system which can provide a history of WA Police Force involvement in relation to family and domestic violence (FDV), as well as some basic information about an adult's criminal history.
The parents and/or carers for the child who will be able to provide context about the concerns and additional information about the child and family structure.
If it is deemed necessary or appropriate to seek additional information from the child, consult with the team leader (TL), seek parental permission and Intake to Initial Inquiry to conduct the interview. If there are concerns that warrant interviewing the child without parental consent, you
must complete an Intake to a Child Safety Investigation (CSI). The district director (DD) where the case is to be allocated
must approve a s.33 request. See Chapter
2.2 Conducting a Child Safety Investigation for further information.
You must consider the referral in the context of the family and household members, including whether there are any siblings or other children affected, and/or whether the mother is pregnant.
It is likely that if one child requires an assessment around their safety, their siblings (including unborn) and other children in the home will be similarly at risk.
Interaction Tool should be used as a guide for what questions to ask and to show you where there are gaps in existing information. You can start entering data into the
Interaction Tool at any time, but scoring should only occur once you have gathered sufficient information, or as much information as possible. The
Interaction Tool will guide your assessment and identify missing information during the assessment process. You must apply the
Interaction Tool for all interactions where child protection concerns have been raised.
The Interaction Tool will provide a recommendation about whether the matter should be Intaked for further action or not. Your role is to consider all information gathered, and based on professional judgement in conjunction with the Interaction Tool's recommendation, determine if the matter requires:
no further action (Interaction Template- No Further Action)
further inquiries required to gather additional information to determine if there is a role for the Department (Interaction Template - Intake to Initial Inquiry)
a referral to an early intervention service, for example, Family Support Networks, or
action to promote the safety and wellbeing of, and/or action to safeguard the child and/or other children (Interaction Template- Intake to Child Safety Investigation).
Assist history check
Where a referral is received by the Department, it is your role to assess the information within the referral in addition to other information already available, to identify if there are any child protection concerns. This includes conducting a thorough Assist history check for the child of concern, any person believed to have harmed the child, other relevant family members and Family Groups associated with any relevant person.
Always conduct a history check on receipt of a concern, even if the family is not believed to have had prior contact with the Department. If the family has no previous history, and you complete an Interaction, ensure you update Assist with new ID's for all relevant family members to ensure an accurate reflection of the contact. Review ASSIST thoroughly, as creating new ID's where there are existing records can lead to confusion and a loss of critical information.
It is your responsibility to review the
Family and Domestic Violence Triage Application. This will provide you with any previous FDV incident reports from WA Police, which include:
the individuals involved
if there were any children present
what actions were taken by WA Police Force
if any crimes were committed, and
a brief criminal history for individuals identified in the report.
When entering data from a referral into ASSIST, input relevant cultural information that is known at the time of writing the Interaction.
All attempts should be made to confirm the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and/or culturally and linguistically diverse status for the child and relevant family members is entered accurately on Assist.
Family and domestic violence
When receiving a referral, assume that FDV is present in all cases. If there are any indications that FDV is or has been perpetrated, use the
FDV Risk Assessment Tool to screen for FDV and high risk factors.
If you are not able to speak with the victim directly, or the victim does not want to complete the risk assessment tool, you can ask some simple screening questions, such as:
You should be aware of the high-risk factors that may indicate significant risk of serious injury and/or intimate partner homicide. Particularly when the matter is urgent, you should be able to assess the level of risk during the call and make decisive action about what type of support and/or intervention is required.
High-risk factors include:
Use of a weapon by the perpetrator to threaten or harm the victim.
Escalation in severity and/or frequency of the violence.
Threats of violence and/or death threats, or actual harm to the victim.
Sexual assault, including rape and coercive/unwanted sexual contact.
Non-fatal strangulation of the victim.
Stalking of the victim by the perpetrator.
Jealousy and/or controlling behaviours.
Recent separation or a decision to separate.
Actual or threatened violence towards children.
Actual or threatened violence towards pets.
Perpetrator access to a weapon.
Threats of suicide made by the perpetrator.
Problematic use of alcohol or other drugs by the perpetrator.
Current mental health issues for the perpetrator.
Very high levels of fear experienced by the victim and/or where the victim believes the perpetrator may seriously hurt or kill them.
If you are a worker from SRRS (CCU) or the FDV Helplines, use the high-risk referral form where there is a risk of imminent risk of serious injury and/or death, and where there are no general vacancies available.
When completing a high-risk referral, you should:
check there are no refuge vacancies. These should be used before a high-risk bed is considered, even when there are high-risk factors present
call the lead agency for the area covering where the victim lives and advise them you will be sending through a high-risk referral. Provide a verbal account of the situation, including what high-risk factors are present
email the high-risk referral to the relevant lead refuge. Ensure it is filled-out correctly and comprehensively. This will help the refuge provide the most appropriate support for the victim, and
provide a taxi to the refuge where required, to ensure the victim arrives safely.
If the lead agency in the victim's catchment area has no high-risk beds available, it is their responsibility to secure safe accommodation for the victim (and children if needed).
If you work outside of SRRS and your initial assessment indicates a high-risk referral to a refuge is necessary, and the victim agrees, consult, or refer the victim to SRRS, WA Police Force or Entrypoint for further assistance. These services can all refer using the high-risk referral form.
There may be situations where the presenting issue is directly related to the impacts of FDV, but where FDV will not be visible unless it is specifically screened for e.g. school non-attendance for compulsory school-aged children. For this reason, on receipt of a referral for non-school attendance you
The referral form has a question about FDV. If this box has been ticked, it is particularly important to gather further information to determine risk for the adult and child victims.
Where the adult victim is protective towards the child, the Department still has a role to investigate concerns when there is an indication of significant harm to a child, or likely significant harm to a child. All Interactions where FDV is recorded as an issue should be reviewed by a TL before closure.
For more information about making an assessment in the context of FDV, see Chapter
2.3 Family and Domestic Violence.
Concerns regarding high risk serious offenders
If you are concerned about the safety of a child who may be having contact with an individual convicted under the
Dangerous Sex Offender Act 2006 or the
High Risk Serious Offenders Act 2020, a rigorous assessment should occur.
There may be cases where you suspect that an individual poses a risk to a child due to past allegations or convictions of abuse of a child, but where you have no confirmation of this e.g. where a person is not recorded on Assist within an alert or as Actual Harm Continuing Risk (ACHR).
If the referrer is WA Police Force, gather further information, verbally or via other means, about previous relevant convictions as part of your assessment on risk to the child. Following consultation and approval from the TL, consider requesting verbal or written information under s.23 of the Act from WA Police at Interaction. The Act allows you to request information on behalf of the CEO when it is in the best interests of a child.
If WA Police Force confirm an individual has been convicted of a serious offence indicating a significant risk to a child, that is, child sex offences, and this person is currently or has recently had contact with a child, reflect this in question 3 of the Interaction Tool.
When recording your assessment, carefully consider what information is included and how you write it in consultation with your TL.
There are very specific laws about what you can and cannot document in relation to people convicted of certain crimes. For example, you cannot refer to the Sex Offender Management Squad (SOMS) or the National Child Offender System (NCOS - previously known as ANCOR) in any case notes relating to an individual. There are strict limitations regarding access to and confidentiality of, the information contained on the NCOS.
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 years). Where you are unsure if a person has been convicted, but there is strong evidence to suggest they have previously abused a child, refer to the person as being 'accused of an offence against a child'. If the person is facing charges but has not been convicted, always note the person is
alleged to have perpetrated sexual offenses against a child.
Where an individual is required to report to the SOMS because of their convictions, document that they are 'required to report to the relevant section in the Western Australia Police'. For more information, see Chapter
4.2 Case alerts.
The purpose of the Interaction Tool is to provide a consistent approach to child protection assessment and to prompt you to consider all aspects of a child's safety and wellbeing. Relevant training must be completed before using the Interaction Tool.
You must utilise this tool in every Interaction to inform a decision on whether the Department has a role to assess child protection concerns
The Interaction Tool is in the format of an Excel document and uses a formula to produce a final score once you have entered a number into each category. For further information on how to score the Interaction Tool, see the
Interaction Tool Practice Guidance.
The Interaction Tool will produce a final score between 0-10. Referrals with information generating scores over 5 recommend an Intake, however, the final decision to Intake is always based on professional judgement. Consult with your TL when there is a score between 4.5 and 5.5 or when you have concerns that the score does not accurately align with your professional judgement regarding a decision to Intake or not, to consider and determine whether an Interaction Tool recommendation should be overridden.
Once you have completed the tool, record the results to the Interaction on Assist in the following ways:
Under the 'Action' drop down, select 'Additional Information' and click 'Go'.
Click the spy glass and from the list of items, choose 'Intake Decision Guide', then 'Launch Selected Script'.
Fill out the relevant information, repeating what you entered into the Interaction Tool. This section
does not populate a final score or recommendation, this is why we continue to use the Excel document.
In the 'Initial Assessment' box you should include the Intake Tool Recommendation and Intake Tool Score. For more guidance on this refer to the next section on this page.
The Excel spreadsheet version of the Interaction Tool is only required to determine the final score.
Once the details have been entered into Assist it is no longer required, and you do not need to save it onto Objective.
When writing your assessment in the Interaction, be concise and focus on assessing and analysing the information available at the time of the interaction. The
Interaction Tool recommendation and score should correlate to your assessment.
Include the following information under the relevant headings:
Write the specific unit/team that received the referral and a summary of the concern, for example, SRRS - CIT – Neighbour saw child hit with stick by father.
Include all information from the referral in this section only and ensure the details of the concern for the child are clear. If the referral has come from a referral form, ensure the information is in a readable format when transferred to Assist. If the referral came from a telephone call or email, note the time and details of the referrer at the top.
This section is where you write your formal assessment.
All actions taken and information gathered following the initial referral is included in this section in dot-point form under the heading "Actions Taken". Where details of the actions taken contain considerable information, document in a case note and reference the Objective file in the relevant dot-point, e.g. Phone call to mother (See Objective ref A79843187 for details).
There may be situations where the child of concern has not previously been Intaked and will not have an Objective file.
The assessment will be Intaked to Initial Inquiry or CSI on this occasion
Write the case note and add to Objective after the Intake has been completed
You will not be able to include an Objective reference in the body of assessment
Forward notes to the TL with the draft assessment for review
This Interaction will not be Intaked
Ensure the new child has been allocated an Assist ID and added to the Family Group
Be rigorous and clear in your assessment, outcome and rationale for decisions, and follow the relevant templates, depending on the outcome of your assessment.
Refer to the following templates (in related resources):
As part of the Expanded Activities pilot, SRRS workers may seek information and have contact outside of parents and the referrer at Interaction level. Outside of this pilot, you should only gather information from Assist, parents and the referrer.
Selecting appropriate 'issues' and 'outcomes'
When recording an Interaction, you must refer to the below list when determining the primary issue and outcome you will record.
(Relates to the next step in the process, not whatever action you have already undertaken e.g. if the Interaction is being closed, then the outcome should be recorded as 'Assessed as No Further Role')
Only to be used when the matter is going to be intaked for a Family Support activity, for referrals to Family Support Networks or other Early Intervention Services. this includes intakes for Parent Support, Bereavement Assistance, matters relating to Family Court when there is a request for information from the Family Court to the Family Court Liaison Officer and/or Leaving Careand/or leaving care/post care support services
May also be used at the conclusion of a CSI when there are final actions required following the completion of the investigation
Used primarily by the SRRS to capture all other crisis issues
Any matter not related to a child should be recorded as Family Support. Any other crisis situation where there are no children involved should be recorded as Other Crisis Issue.
What do we have to record?
If there is insufficient information recorded in an Interaction on Assist, it is nearly impossible for someone to locate it again and important information can be lost. This can include situations where there is little or no context and/or no identifying client information.
There are some circumstances where there is no organisational value in recording an Interaction. Use your professional judgement in determining these. Records should be purposeful and contain enough information about the situation and client that they can be easily recalled later.
You are not required to record every phone call that you receive; telephone logs are used for this purpose.
Examples where you may not be required to record an Interaction include:
request for bed count (by a service provider with no client identifying details)
internal transfers within districts, e.g. within SRRS
incorrect calls to the service
callers wishing to provide charitable donations
callers enquiring about employment opportunities
callers where no identifying information is provided or the caller refuses to provide information
warm transfers to other services where no client information is provided
request for taxi transport by lone adult (when not a victim of FDV) and where the request is denied.
request for information about external service providers, and/or
adult callers (repeat callers) where no child is identified, and no child protection concerns are identified.
In most instances, concerns for children in the CEO's care should be sent straight to the child protection worker (CPW) and/or the district managing the open case. This is not the usual process in the Mandatory Reporting Service (MRS) and/or afterhours in the SRRS (CCU).
Statewide Referral and Response Service - Mandatory Reporting Service
Where concerns are received for children in the CEO's care in SRRS (MRS) and it is business hours, consult with the CPW. The CPW may already be aware of the concerns. If they are not, they may have additional information and knowledge about the child that can help inform your assessment. In consultation with the CPW, and depending on the concerns, it may be appropriate to complete a new Intake or to add sexual abuse concerns to an existing CSI. If a decision is made to complete a new Intake, the district who received the concern first is responsible for completing the Assist work.
Statewide Referral and Response Service -
Crisis Care Unit
Where SRRS (CCU) receives concerns for a child in the CEO's care afterhours, the priority is to ensure the child's immediate safety and wellbeing. Children already in the CEO's care are particularly vulnerable and the Department holds responsibility for their care and wellbeing. Consider what actions and responses are required to meet their additional needs.
The Interaction Tool must be used to assess the nature and severity of the risk reported for a child in the CEO's care and to help you to determine if an Intake should be completed. When an Intake is completed for a child in the CEO's care, a Duty of Care notification will be generated.
See Chapter 2.1.4 Responding to concerns for children in care – overview, for further information.
When you complete the Interaction Tool include it into the Interaction on Assist following the standard process. If you determine there is no further role for the Department related to the concern raised in the referral, email a reference of the Interaction to the CPW managing the case.
This provides transparency and ensures the CPW is aware of all relevant issues for the child, including what decisions have been made or actions taken by other workers. If there is a lot of missing information and you are unsure how to proceed, consult with the TL to determine if it is appropriate to leave the Interaction open to consult with the CPW.
You may receive a request from the Department of Justice - Corrective Services (Corrective Services) for a prisoner who has restricted visitation if that person wishes to have contact with children in their family. Prisoners are likely to have their visits restricted in circumstances where their offences are in relation to abuse of a child or an offence that included serious violence.
These assessments may be completed at Interaction if there is extensive information already on Assist, or at Initial Inquiry if more information is required to complete your assessment.
As part of your assessment, you will be requested to make a recommendation to support or not to support the prisoner's application for the child visit. Corrective Services will make the final decision. Your assessment should consider the prisoners release date, the likely need to develop a safety plan for the child to visit their parent/relative in prison as well as on release, if no such safety plan exists and how well prepared the caregiver feels to ensure there is enough safety for the child to visit their parent/relative in prison.
Unless there are exceptional circumstances, you should not recommend visits in the following situations:
The non-offending parent/caregiver is unwilling or unable to create safety or to follow a safety plan.
The non-offending parent/caregiver does not acknowledge or accept the offences for which the prisoner has been incarcerated.
The child in question was harmed by the offences (even if this child was not the primary victim) and there is an unacceptable risk posed to the child the prisoner is requesting to visit.
The child is considered a mature minor and is unable or unwilling to acknowledge the potential risks posed by the prisoner.
The child is highly vulnerable, due to disability or other factors, and the risks are unlikely to be able to be managed safely.
The prisoner has not taken responsibility for their offences, does not acknowledge the harm they have caused and/or demonstrates no insight into the risk they pose.
The child has indicated they do not want to participate in a visit with the prisoner and/or the prison.
The request should include the identifying information of the prisoner, child victims and caregivers. It should also include relevant reports and sentencing remarks made by the magistrate in relation to their offence.
Complete the assessment and provide a response within six weeks, or sooner if the:
If you are unable to meet these timeframes, contact the Corrective Services on
AC-SM-ChildVisits@correctiveservices.wa.gov.au to discuss the extension process. Any forms completed should be sent internally to
firstname.lastname@example.org and a scanned copy should also be placed in the Objective file (child and prisoner).
In some circumstances the Department may receive a child visit request and a female prisoner is pregnant. If this occurs, you
must complete a separate assessment in relation to the safety of the unborn child and consider progressing the Intake for pre-birth planning.
Refer to Chapters
2.2 High-risk infants and
Pre-birth planning for further information.
If a prisoner is unhappy with the decision, they may appeal to Corrective Services and reapply for visits. Appeals can only be made by the prisoner. When an appeal is received, Corrective Services may request further information from the Department to inform their review process.
At the end of your assessment, if you are progressing to CSI, you must select a priority level that determines the timeline for commencing the CSI. This decision should be made in consultation with your team leader.
Refer to Chapter 2.2 Conducting a Child Safety Investigation for further information on selecting a priority level.
Procedural fairness, also referred to as natural justice, is concerned with the procedures used by a decision-maker to obtain an outcome, rather than the actual outcome reached. Principles of procedural fairness should be applied to all decisions that may negatively affect the rights, interests or legitimate expectations of an individual, this can include actions taken as part of an Interaction.
To ensure procedural fairness is reflected in all decision-making processes throughout the life of a case, be open and transparent, while still managing safety concerns. This should include:
advising the parent why the Department has decided to become involved with or to contact the family
speaking with the parent about the concerns
offering the parent an opportunity to talk about their family situation to help inform decisions being made by the Department about involvement with their family
advising the parent, particularly if the case is open to Initial Inquiry, that you will be making further inquiries and may discuss the concerns outside of the family, and
that all concerns and discussions documented on a child protection database and will be available for future reference if subsequent concerns are raised.
The following three principles underpin our processes:
The Hearing Rule – the decision-maker must give an opportunity to an individual whose interests may be adversely affected by their decision the opportunity to be heard, before the decision is made.
The Bias Rule – the decision-maker should be unbiased in the matter to be decided.
The No Evidence Rule – the decision that is made must be based on logical evidence (proven on the balance of probabilities – that is, there is a real possibility, that cannot be sensibly ignored, having regard to the nature and gravity of the feared harm in the particular case).
The Department follows the Western Australia Ombudsman's Guidelines for procedural fairness. All authorised officers should be familiar with the concept of procedural fairness and aim to promote this in their work.
If an individual does not feel that they have not been treated fairly and have been denied procedural fairness, they can make formal complaint via the Complaints Management Unit.