Receiving, registering and classifying a report

Follow this procedure when receiving, registering and classifying a report.

Document ID number 1003, version 5, 31 March 2017.

Introduction

For supporting information see Receiving and processing reports - advice.

This procedure outlines the process for responding to reports, including:

  • receiving and registering a report
  • gathering further information
  • completing the intake assessment
  • classifying a report
  • concluding the intake phase.

Procedure

Case practitioner tasks

Receiving and registering a report

  • Explain child protection’s role and confidentiality protections to the reporter.

Unless they consent in writing, the reporter’s name or any information likely to identify them must not be disclosed to anyone other than a protective intervener or a community-based child and family service or to a court or tribunal if necessary (s. 191 and s. 41(2) CYFA).

  • Check that the child’s primary address is within the division contacted. If not, refer the reporter to the correct division unless there is a reason to believe that the reporter will not contact the correct division. In that case, take the report and advise the reporter that it will be transferred to the correct division.
  • Transfer to the relevant team if the child is a current client.
  • Ask the reporter whether the child or family are Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, Maori or from another cultural background explaining the reasons why this information is important. For direction on how to ask, refer to 'Identifying Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children - for child protection practitioners (pdf, 68.5 KB)

Identifying Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children who are involved with child protection in Victoria is a practice requirement.

If the reporter (or other source) does not know if a child or sibling is Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, the child's Aboriginal status should be recorded as under assessment on the client file (CRIS) and further enquiries made later.

Where either parent identifies as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, the child is to be recorded on CRIS as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, irrespective of whether the other parent or carer identified the child as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander.

  • Ask the reporter about:
    • the child and siblings
    • the parents and other family members
    • the concerns held by the reporter and the basis for their concerns
    • social and professional network.
  • If the reporter believes the child has exhibited sexually abusive behaviour and the child is 10 years of age or over and under 15 years of age, register a therapeutic treatment report. See procedure Allegations of sexually abusive behaviour (TTR) for tasks that must be undertaken.
  • Register the report in CRIS and select the appropriate intake type.
  • If a family violence report (L17) has been received from Victoria Police, cut and paste the narrative from the L17 Family Violence Portal into CRIS. Ensure you clearly identify, in the body of the report, who the AFM and respondent are, and any other risk factors or information contained on the L17 (for example in the tick boxes) that may inform a risk assessment.
  • For intake types not registered as an intake report, other procedures apply. See other procedures.

Gathering further information

  • Seek case direction by consulting your supervisor at all significant decision points, including:
    • receipt of the initial report
    • receipt of any new information that may change current case direction.
  • Complete a CRIS search on the subject child, siblings and parents:
    • by name using all known family and given names (including aliases) and similar spellings
    • by address using current and past addresses for the child and siblings or parental figures.
  • Undertake a CRIS check of relevant adults to consider ‘person assessed as responsible for harm’. This check may tell you if an alleged perpetrator has previously been assessed as responsible for harm and whether he or she has had contact with other children who are not the subject of the current report.
  • Gather relevant assessment information from other sources such as other agencies or professionals where possible, including interstate child protection history where relevant.

Child protection is required to consult ACSASS about all reports (including child wellbeing reports) regarding Aboriginal children, and about significant decisions in all phases of intervention – CYFA s. 12 (1)(b) and 13(1)(a).

  • Contact ACSASS for an Aboriginal child.
    • Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (Lakidjeka) ACSASS (entire state except for the Mallee area) - (03) 9388 2488
    • Mallee District Aboriginal Services ACSASS (Mallee area only) - 0429223833 (daytime), 0427474863 (after hours)
  • Consider contacting an appropriate CALD organisation for children of a CALD background.
  • Refer to the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court protocol if there is an indication the family is also involved with the Family Court or Federal Circuit Court.
  • Record consultations in CRIS.
  • Contact Victoria Police about reports of physical or sexual abuse or serious neglect.
  • Consider a case conference with professionals if appropriate and approved by your supervisor. See Case conferences - advice.
  • Share information appropriately in the best interests of the child. Comply with the information sharing provisions of the CYFA and the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014.

Child protection may consult and receive information from three classes of professionals (information holders, community services and service agencies) in the intake phase. These professionals are authorised to disclose information to child protection and are protected if they do – CYFA s. 35 and s.37.

Prior to classification of the report, the CYFA does not permit consultation with:

  • professionals who are not members of any of the authorised classes
  • non-professionals, including relatives, community members and friends.

Contact with the child or family should not be made for the purpose of gathering information to assist in report classification That is, for the purpose of assessing risk or determining an appropriate service.

  • If the child is under two years of age, consult your supervisor on the day of the report about whether the child meets the high-risk infant criteria – see procedure High-risk infants. If the child is assessed as a high-risk infant by your supervisor, consult a practice leader (or more senior practitioner) to inform the course of action.
  • Consult your supervisor if the report indicates a child is in need of therapeutic treatment and determine if a therapeutic treatment report will be recorded – see procedure Allegations of sexually abusive behaviour (TTR). A child wellbeing report or a protective intervention report may also be required.
  • Ask your supervisor whether to conduct a national police history check in regard to parental carers if the report suggests violence or other serious offending – see National police history checks policy.

A national police history check at intake is not routine. Checks should be undertaken only if critical to assessment, as a clear police check does not negate the possibility of criminal activity.

  • Develop and record an initial safety, stability and development statement by close of business on the day of a report. 
  • Create subsequent safety, stability and development statements in case notes if new information is received that may alter the current assessment.
  • Convene a case conference if a child has been admitted to hospital with an unconfirmed or suspicious medical condition or suspicious injury. See Case conferences - advice and Suspicious or unclear hospital admission or discharge – advice.

Gathering further information about family violence

Reports that concern family violence, and in particular L17 reports, can sometimes be difficult to assess as the reported information may be limited to a single incident and little may be known about the nature, patterns or severity of the family violence. Where it is relevant to inform a risk assessment, information about current indicators of risk and the pattern and history of violence and its impact on the child should be sought from Victoria Police and relevant service providers, including specialist family violence services. 

If further information is required:

  • Contact the relevant Victoria Police Family Violence Unit to determine the following:
    • if there is a pattern and history of family violence that child protection is not aware of, this may include the perpetrator committing acts of family violence against other adults and children
    • any history of intervention order applications or breaches of intervention orders
    • what safety plans, if any, Victoria Police, has put in place for the family
  • Contact specialist family violence services, where known, to determine the following:
    • the outcome of any risk assessments conducted by the service
    • whether the service is currently involved with the family
    • if there is a safety and support plan in place
  • Consider contacting Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre if you believe the affected parent may have accessed emergency accommodation currently or in the past.

Note: Information contained in a risk assessment is current only at the point in time it was collected. While obtaining historical risk assessments is valuable to understand the dynamic risk of family violence and gain an understanding of the pattern and history of family violence and previous support provided to the family, new risk assessments must be conducted based on current circumstances.

Obtaining the outcome of an intervention order (including a safety notice) application or Family Law Act Order made in the Magistrates Court

  • Contact the Registrar of the local Magistrates Court to request the outcome of an intervention order or parenting order application. Matters will usually be heard in the Magistrates Court located closest to where the family reside.
  • Request a copy of any interim or full intervention order in place and attach this to CRIS in a separate case note.
  • Contact the relevant Victoria Police Family Violence Unit to determine the outcome of intervention order applications if the matter is urgent and there are any delays or issues obtaining this information from the Magistrates Court, ensuring you record, in a separate CRIS note, all conditions in the order.  

Obtaining information from the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court of Australia

Requests for information from the Family Court or the Federal Circuit Court can be made by:

  • Completing the form: Request to Family Court for information
  • Emailing the completed form to the relevant Court Registry as noted on the form.

The request may include:

  • Parenting orders (Interim and Final Orders)
  • Affidavit material
  • Date of Next Hearing
  • Verifying if there are current proceedings
  • Family Report
  • Judgement
  • Viewing of a court file

Obtaining the outcome of an intervention order (including a safety notice) application or Family Law Act Order made in the Magistrates Court

  • Contact the Registrar of the local Magistrates Court to request the outcome of an intervention order or parenting order application. Matters will usually be heard in the Magistrates Court located closest to where the family reside.
  • Request a copy of any interim or full intervention order in place and attach this to CRIS in a separate case note.
  • Contact the relevant Victoria Police Family Violence Unit to determine the outcome of intervention order applications if the matter is urgent and there are any delays or issues obtaining this information from the Magistrates Court, ensuring you record, in a separate CRIS note, all conditions in the order.  

Obtaining information from the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court of Australia

Requests for information from the Family Court or the Federal Circuit Court can be made by:

  • Completing the form: Request to Family Court for information
  • Emailing the completed form to the relevant Court Registry as noted on the form.

The request may include:

  • Parenting orders (Interim and Final Orders)
  • Affidavit material
  • Date of Next Hearing
  • Verifying if there are current proceedings
  • Family Report
  • Judgement
  • Viewing of a court file

Completing the intake assessment and classifying a report

  • Consult your supervisor within three days of the report, and make a recommendation to the team manager about final report classification including priority and urgency.
  • Report classifications can be either:
    • protective intervention report and/or a therapeutic treatment report or   
    • child wellbeing report or
    • inappropriate/insufficient.

All protective intervention reports and therapeutic treatment reports must be investigated.

  • Response classification for a protective intervention report can be either:
    • investigation required within two days of report (urgent investigation), or
    • investigation required within 14 days of report.

A report is classified as urgent where there is immediate and significant harm or risk of harm to the child and may include:

  • current serious injury or serious harm to the child and sufficient safety cannot be demonstrated in the immediate period
  • the need to sight forensic evidence such as injuries
  • medical neglect where medical attention has not been or is unlikely to be provided and where failure to provide that attention places the child at significant and immediate risk of harm
  • risk of serious injury or harm due to the environment in which the child is currently placed
  • recent threat to kill, or self harm or suicide risk requiring risk assessment
  • parental or caregiver characteristics such as mental health, violence or substance abuse which present a significant risk to the child and there are no mitigating factors to ensure safety in the immediate period
  • child or family are a flight risk
  • the child has made a disclosure of serious harm and is to return to the environment in which this harm has occurred or is likely to recur
  • abandonment or death or incapacity of parents and insufficient safety can be demonstrated in the immediate period.

Additionally, factors such as the age and development of the child, the parent or caregiver capacity and availability, alleged perpetrator access to the child, and any known pattern and history of the family should also be considered in determining whether the investigation is urgent.

  • Unless, following consultation, a team manager or above determines it is not necessary, the report must be automatically classified as a protective intervention report if:

If the report is received before 1.00 pm, that day is counted as 'day one' and the 'two calendar days' period concludes the next day. If the report is received after 1.00 pm, that day is counted as 'day zero' and the 'two calendar days' period concludes the day after the next day.

  • Consult the practice leader if recommending closure of a report on a high-risk infant.
  • Consult the principal practitioner if recommending closure of a report regarding a child in contact with a registered sex offender.
  • Consult your supervisor and decide on the appropriate phase outcome.
  • Provide feedback to a professional reporter about the outcome of the report, unless exceptional circumstances exist or it is not in the child’s best interests to do so.
  • Close as ‘Wellbeing report – advice to reporter only’ if, after consultation with a supervisor, it is established the report does not meet the threshold for any further follow up. Include a record of your supervisor consultation in the Safety, Stability and Development statement.

For a child wellbeing report, you can tell the child or family about the report for the purposes of providing advice or assistance if that disclosure is in the best interests of the child. If you receive information from the child or family that changes your assessment, consult your supervisor about whether to change the classification from a child wellbeing report to a protective intervention report.

Concluding the intake phase

Case practitioner tasks for phase outcome ‘Protective intervention report – child assessment required’

  • Consult the team manager to review the report and recommended outcome.  
  • Record the outcome on CRIS. 
  • Provide advice to professional reporters and any other relevant parties on the outcome of the report. Where appropriate, non-professional reporters may be informed of the outcome of their report.
  • Transcribe the details of family violence reports into a case note, upload the scanned (minimum 200 DPI) family violence report into CRIS.
  • In consultation with your supervisor, provide a verbal handover for investigation.

Case practitioner tasks for cases closed at intake

These tasks apply when the case is classified as:

  • ‘Child wellbeing report – advice to the reporter and/or advice to child and/or family’
  • ‘Inappropriate report – no action necessary’ or
  • ‘Insufficient information – no action possible’.
  • If the child has been classified as a high-risk infant, seek endorsement from a practice leader for the decision to close the case. Record the endorsement in CRIS.
  • For child wellbeing reports, contact the family if required to provide advice or referral to appropriate services. If the parents were contacted after classification of the report and during the course of intake, write to the parents advising them of:
    • the decision and rationale to close
    • any referrals to services or information provided.
  • If referring to Child FIRST, seek to inform the family of the referral, then complete the referral.
  • If a referral has been made to Child FIRST, a family service or a service agency (as defined in s.3, CYFA), do not close the case until the referral is accepted or other action taken within the prescribed timelines.
  • When endorsed, prepare the case for closure by:
    • ensuring records are complete and correct including client details, associated people, agencies and professionals
  • transcribing details of family violence reports into a case note, uploading the scanned (minimum 200 DPI) family violence report into CRIS
  • ensuring any client paper file contains all relevant documents and is returned to departmental archives
    • recording rationales for decisions.
  • Complete the phase outcome in CRIS, selecting the appropriate value.
  • Generate or create a new version of the intake record.
  • Move the case to closure phase.
  • Provide advice to professional reporters on the outcome of the report and to non-professional reporters where appropriate.

Supervisor tasks

  • Provide ongoing supervision and consultation.
  • Consult with a practice leader if the recommendation is to close a high-risk infant case.
  • Undertake criminal history checks.

Team manager tasks

  • Decide whether a child aged under two years of age should be classified as a high-risk infant.
  • Consult with a practice leader if the recommendation is to close a high-risk infant case.
  • Provide ongoing supervision and consultation.
  • Endorse key decisions including classification and priority and urgency of protective intervention reports.
  • Transfer cases to other teams.

Practice leader tasks

  • Provide consultation on high-risk infants and endorse case closure.

Area manager (or delegate) tasks

  • Review cases when three reports are received on a child within 12 months and no investigation has occurred. A third report within 12 months must be investigated unless you or your delegate determine that an investigation is not warranted. See Re-reports - advice.
  • Record your rationale for a decision not to investigate a third report within 12 months on CRIS.
  • You may delegate the classification decision on re-reports to a team manager or a more senior officer.
  • Consider an independent review when a fifth report is made on a child and no investigation has occurred, regardless of the time period over which the reports were made. The practitioner, supervisor, team manager and an independent reviewer undertake a review of the case history with a specific focus on cumulative harm. Consider involving a practice leader or principal practitioner in the independent review.

Principal practitioner tasks

  • Endorse closure of a report regarding a registered sex offender.
  • Participate in an independent review of cases where a fifth report has been received about a child but no investigation has occurred.
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