Investigation of sexually abusive behaviour

Follow this procedure when investigating a therapeutic treatment report (TTR) about a child with sexually abusive behaviour.

Introduction

Child protection’s investigation and assessment focuses on the child and parental response to the behaviour, the risk the child poses to other children (such as siblings or other children residing with the child in an out-of-home care placement) and the nature of the behaviours, that is, the degree to which the behaviours are entrenched, the seriousness of the behaviours (age appropriate, concerning and very concerning sexual behaviours).

TTR investigations should be conducted by child protection practitioners who have completed ‘Working with children and families affected by sexual abuse’ parts 1 and 2 delivered by the department’s Centre for Learning and Practice Development.

See Therapeutic treatment reports and orders - advice for additional information. See Therapeutic treatment resources for decision trees, tip sheets and report templates.

Procedure

Case practitioner tasks

Investigating a TTR from a community member

  • Follow Therapeutic treatment resources decision tree 4.
  • Develop an investigation plan. Ensure the plan considers the risk the child poses to other children, especially siblings or other children residing in the same placement as the child.
  • Consider a consultation with the principal practitioner or the Office of Professional Practice to develop your investigation plan.
  • Consult with police and determine if a joint investigation is appropriate.
  • Consult with youth justice if the child is a youth justice client. Consider if a joint visit is appropriate.
  • Undertake an assessment focusing on the child and parental response to the behaviour, the safety issues the child poses to other children and an assessment of the nature of the behaviours.
  • In consultation with your supervisor, determine what intervention is required. Consider whether a referral to the Therapeutic Treatment Board is required.

Investigating reports from the Criminal Division of the Children’s Court

When the Criminal Division of the Children’s Court refers a matter to child protection under s. 349 (2), the Court considers that there is prima facie evidence that grounds exist for the making of an application for a TTO. The child protection investigation is therefore concerned with identifying what is the best pathway for treatment to address the behaviours.

  • Develop an investigation plan. Ensure the plan considers the risk the child poses to other children, especially siblings or other children residing in the same placement as the child.
  • Consider a consultation with the principal practitioner or the Office of Professional Practice to develop your investigation plan.
  • Prioritise TTRs from the Children’s Court.
  • Contact the police informant as a priority for information about the criminal investigation, and obtain a copy of the brief of evidence. This information from the police will assist in the investigation and assessment and should be included in the referral report to the Therapeutic Treatment Board (TTB).
  • Consult with youth justice to ascertain their views regarding the appropriateness or otherwise of child protection’s assessment and planned actions. Ensure that child protection and youth justice do not provide contradictory advice to the Court.
  • Refer the TTR to the TTB for advice once child protection has concluded its assessment. The template for referrals is available at Therapeutic treatment orders forms.
  • Provide a report to the Criminal Division of the Children’s Court within 21 days of the referral. See Therapeutic treatment resources for a report template. In your report confirm that the referral has been investigated and advise whether:
    • a protection application has been made, or
    • an application for a therapeutic treatment order has been made, or
    • child protection is satisfied that no protection application or no application for a therapeutic treatment order is required.
  • Seek an adjournment of the matter in the Criminal Division of the Children’s Court if the report cannot be provided within 21 days.

Investigating reports from Victoria Police

  • Follow Therapeutic treatment resources decision tree 3.
  • Develop an investigation plan. Ensure the plan considers the risk the child poses to other children, especially siblings or other children residing in the same placement as the child.
  • Consider a consultation with the principal practitioner or the Office of Professional Practice to develop your investigation plan.
  • Plan a joint investigation with police if police have not yet investigated the concern. See Joint visits with police - advice.
  • If police have commenced a criminal investigation or they determine that a police investigation will be conducted separately, continue with a child protection investigation. 
  • Obtain relevant information from police such as witness statements or a summary of charges.
  • Refer the TTR to the TTB for advice.

Supervisor tasks

  • Provide ongoing supervision and consultation.
  • Approve the investigation plan.

 

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