SA Health has a vital role to play in keeping children and young people safe identifying, addressing and preventing child abuse and neglect. Child protection is the responsibility of all employees, contractors, consultants, volunteers and students on placement in SA Health facilities.
Amended child protection-related legislation
The below two pieces of legislation are relevant to all SA Health agencies and their staff and have implications for their statutory responsibilities and legal obligations.
Statutes Amendment (Child Sexual Abuse) Act 2021
The Statutes Amendment (Child Sexual Abuse) Act 2021 came into operation on 1 June 2022. It includes two new offences which carry a penalty of imprisonment:
- fail to report child sex abuse to police (maximum 3 years imprisonment)
- fail to protect when they know there is a substantial risk of the sexual abuse of a child (maximum 15 years imprisonment).
It’s important for all for all employees, contractors, consultants, volunteers and students on placement in SA Health facilities to read the information below and understand your legal obligations. Please read the Fact Sheet - Statutes Amendment (Child Sexual Abuse) Act 2021 (PDF 299KB) to learn more.
Civil Liability (Institutional Child Abuse Liability) Amendment Act 2021
Under ‘Part 7A – Child abuse – liability of institutions’ of the amended Civil Liability Act 1936 (PDF 612KB), there is now an increased obligation for Local Health Networks and all other SA Health agencies to ensure they can prove that they are taking all reasonable steps to prevent child abuse from occurring to children that are under their care.
Relevant teams in Local Health Networks and all other SA Health agencies have been notified of the actions required to operationalise the legislative changes and recommendations with regards to induction, training, policies, procedures, record keeping, audit and monitoring.
Please read the Fact Sheet - Civil Liability (Institutional Child Abuse Liability) Amendment Act 2021 (PDF 225KB) to learn more.
Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect
Section 31 of the Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017 requires certain health clinicians and health workers to report to the Department for Child Protection their suspicion that a child or young person is, or may be, at risk. Nevertheless, SA Health supports all its employees reporting their reasonable suspicions that children or young people are, or may be, at risk. This recognises that everybody has a duty to keep children and young people safe from harm. Child abuse and neglect has immediate and lifelong impacts on health and wellbeing. SA Health has developed a number of policies and processes to meet its statutory obligations.
SA Health Children’s Policies
Please note, the following policies are all currently under review. Until updated versions have been released, the below policies remain in force and continue to be applicable.
Child Safe Environments Policy Directive
The Child Safe Environments (Child Protection) Policy Directive (PDF 114KB) provides the overarching framework for protecting children from physical, sexual, emotional and psychological abuse and neglect, as well as promoting their health and wellbeing. The Child Safe Environments (Child Protection) Policy Directive fulfils SA Health’s obligations under sections 114 and 115 of the Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017 and outlines requirements for ensuring child safe environments for children and young people.
Child protection - Mandatory reporting of suspicion that a child or young person (0 to 18 years) is or may be at risk of harm policy directive
The Child Protection - Mandatory Notification of actual or suspected child abuse or neglect 0 to 18 years Policy Directive (PDF 274KB) aims to ensure a consistent approach to the mandatory reporting requirements under the Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017 in respect of children or young people suspected to be at risk.
With the implementation of this Policy Directive, SA Health will ensure:
- reporting of all cases where it is reasonably suspected that a child or young person is or may be at risk;
- systems exist to assist staff to identify cases when children or young people are, or maybe, at risk;
- staff are aware of their legal obligations to report their suspicions that children or young people are, or maybe, at risk; and
- staff are knowledgeable about child protection.
Collaborative Case Management of ‘At Risk’ Infants in Birthing Hospitals Policy Directive and Policy Guideline
The Collaborative Case Management of 'At Risk' Infants in Birthing Hospitals Policy Directive (PDF 371KB) aims to facilitate optimal outcomes for women with high and complex needs and their infants, through:
- Early intervention when psycho-social complexity and risk are identified in the ante-natal period
- Working in partnership to achieve the best outcomes for infants and families where there are child protection concerns; and
- Joint case management and collaboration between the staff of SA Health and the Department for Child Protection. This policy directive is to be read/administered in conjunction with the Collaborative Case Management of ‘At Risk’ Infants in Birthing Hospitals Policy Guideline (PDF 286KB).
Other relevant policies and documents
Health Services Agreement for Children and Young People in Out of Home Care
This Agreement (PDF 672KB) reaffirms the commitment of SA Health and the Department for Child Protection (DCP) to provide priority access and improved responses to the health needs of children and young people in care.
SA Health and DCP will provide health assessments and referrals for eligible children and young people in accordance with the National Clinical Assessment Framework for Children and Young People in Out-of-Home Care and the National Standards for Out of Home Care.
The Health Services Agreement an updated version of the Guardianship Health Standards, originally developed in 2007 and then updated in 2014.
Safe Sleeping Policy Directive and South Australian Safe Sleeping Standards
The purpose of the Safe Infant Sleeping Policy Directive (PDF 1MB) is to ensure all staff and volunteers, whose work brings them in contact with parents and caregivers with infants under 12 months of age, effectively promote and model safe infant sleep practices and environments consistent with the South Australian Safe Infant Sleeping Standards. The policy relates to staff in all facilities and settings. The policy ensures parents and caregivers receive consistent and accurate information and have the opportunity to observe recommended safe sleeping practices so that they can implement these on return to their home environment.
The South Australian Safe Infant Sleeping Standards (PDF 511KB) aim to ensure staff in all facilities (i.e. antenatal, birthing, postnatal, paediatric, child health, childcare, community and general practice settings) promote and model safe infant care practices and environments consistent with the Standards. They also aim to:
- ensure consistent and accurate information is given to parents/caregivers
- provide the opportunity for new parents and caregivers to observe recommended safe sleeping practices that take into consideration the needs of the baby and the family so that parents can implement these on return to their home environment; and
- support staff ongoing training and/or professional development activities to promote safe sleeping best-practices.
South Australian Public Health (Severe Domestic Squalor) Policy and Guideline
Severe domestic squalor in domestic premises can constitute a risk to public health under the South Australian Public Health Act 2011. The guidelines: A Foot in in the Door: Stepping towards solutions to resolve incidents of severe domestic squalor in South Australia (PDF 942KB) notes that children can be at severe risk of abuse and neglect in households where there is persistent and severe domestic squalor. This Public Health policy and the guidelines highlight the need to identify if any children in a household are at risk and to ensure children are seen and assessed independently. Depending on severity, a report to the Department for Child Protection Department may be required.
SA Health Chief Child Protection Officer
The role of the Chief Child Protection Officer was established to provide leadership, engagement and advice on child protection policy and governance within SA Health.
South Australian Government associated policies, directives and guidelines
- Charter of Rights for Children and Young People in Care. 2009 (Office for the Guardian of Children and Young People)
- Family Safety Framework and Authority to Disclose Information under the Family Safety Framework Policy Directive (PDF 587KB)
- Information Sharing Guidelines for Promoting Safety and Wellbeing
- Multiagency Protection Service (MAPS)
- Safe and Well Supporting families, protecting children— is South Australia’s plan for supporting families at risk of entering the child protecting system to safely care for their children, protecting children and young people from harm including when they are in care, and investing in young people in care to provide them with opportunities for a bright future.
Every Effort for Every Child is a 3 year strategy for children and young people in care 2020-2023 which is part of the Safe and Well Supporting families, protecting children.
SA Health associated policies, directives and guidelines
- Criminal and Relevant History Screening Policy Directive (PDF 307KB)
- Employees Charged with Criminal Offences Directive (PDF 119KB)
- Performance Review and Development (PDF 90KB)
- Protective Security Policy
- Protocol Between the Child Death and Serious Injury Review Committee and the Department Of Health for the Purposes of the Release of Information from DH to the Child Death and Serious Injury Review Committee (CDSIRC)
- Reporting and management of incidents of suspected or alleged sexual assault of an adult or sexual misconduct by an adult within SA Health facilities and services Policy Directive (PDF 854KB)
- Risk Management Policy (PDF 120KB)
- Security of child and adolescent patients in hospitals and health services
SA Perinatal Practice Guidelines
Perinatal Guidelines that relate to child protection:
- Concealed or denied pregnancy (PDF 213KB)
- Distress after a traumatic birth experience (management of women with) (PDF 149KB)
- Eating disorders and pregnancy (PDF 143KB)
- Female genital mutilation (PDF 260KB)
- Infants of drug dependent women (PDF 777KB)
- Intent to harm fetus (PDF 197KB)
- Substance use in pregnancy (PDF 5MB)
- Women who decline blood transfusion (PDF 403KB)
Australian and State/Territory Government associated policies, directives and guidelines
- Protecting Children is Everyone’s Business: National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009–2020
- The National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010–2022.
Child Protection and Policy Unit