To support regular and high quality individual supervision in case practice/service delivery that supports children and young people in the CEO's care to have improved life chances. Supervision in case practice protects children and young people from abuse and neglect and supports family and individuals at risk or in crisis to manage their lives and keep themselves and their families safe.
Note: CEO refers to the Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Communities and 'staff' refers to all service delivery staff in Child Protection and Family Support division.
Supervision is an essential part of supporting staff and promoting good service delivery. All staff must receive regular supervision, with the focus and content varying to reflect the person’s position. Consultation is not supervision and must not be recorded as such.
There are four key focus areas that supervision in case practice/service delivery needs to address:
1. Managerial function
(a) Case practice/service delivery planning
Progressing individual cases/service delivery work through supervision involves:
Child Protection and Family Support division practice frameworks, including the Casework Practice Manual, provide the main reference points for reviewing practice.
(b) Managing workload
Supervision provides an opportunity for both supervisors and supervisees to review workload issues.
For case workers, the allocation of cases takes into account:
(c) Managing for performance including administrative requirements and accountability
Supervisors must provide feedback to the supervisees about their work performance at each supervision meeting. It is the supervisor’s role to identify, communicate and manage performance issues, and provide an opportunity for supervisees to improve their work performance in a reasonable timeframe.
Managing performance through supervision involves:
Where a performance concern has been identified, the supervisor will address it in supervision and record this in the Supervision Record. Where performance concerns are not able to be addressed in supervision meetings, the supervisor may need to consider a performance improvement process.
2. Development function
The most effective learning occurs through undertaking day-to-day work. Supervision enables learning through encouraging critical reflection, skills practice and problem solving on real cases. Collectively these strategies drive continuous learning and improvement.
Learning and development focusses on a range of issues depending on the individual’s needs and include:
Issues raised as part of Reaching Forward, supervision and managing for performance can be used to inform learning and development needs.
Supervision discussions must track the progress of specific tasks or learning and development requirements identified during the annual Reaching Forward session.
3. Support function: Building emotional and psychological health and resilience
Child protection work carries inherent stresses including the vicarious trauma of working with vulnerable and at risk children, young people and families. Anxiety may arise due to the potential danger for children and working with uncertainty. Supervision is a primary means of addressing the stress and anxiety of the work.
Managing the work on an ongoing basis requires staff to be emotionally and psychologically healthy and resilient. Building emotional and psychological health and resilience is a core focus of supervision and needs to have a deliberate focus on managing the stress and anxiety of the work, which includes:
The Corporate Health Framework, Wellness@Work, outlines our approach for building and maintaining positive workplaces, and practical strategies to support staff to look after their own wellbeing.
4. Mediation function
This aspect of supervision relates closely to the managerial function, and therefore it is provided by the supervisor. Mediation can include:
The following tools (in related resources) may be useful for supervisors:
Group supervision involves multiple staff, with all participants actively working on aspects of practice for currently open cases or service delivery work.
The supervisor will generally lead group supervision, although other case practice leaders may also facilitate this mode of supervision.
Group supervision may be used for:
Individual supervision must be provided by the supervisor and includes formal scheduled supervision sessions and informal unscheduled discussions.
Individual formal supervision is be used to discuss:
All staff working with Aboriginal families must have access to ongoing supervision to increase their cultural competence. The purpose of this is to provide the best possible service to clients and community by building the worker’s knowledge, skills, insight and wisdom in working with Aboriginal children, families and communities.
The following prompt questions may assist and guide this discussion:
This is an important element for Aboriginal staff. The purpose of cultural supervision is to build cultural safety for Aboriginal staff by acknowledging the impact of colonisation, managing bi-cultural relationships, and reflect on the ways in which child protection work can impact on Aboriginal staff.
Cultural supervision recognises that some aspects of cultural support and connection can only be gained and shared between Aboriginal people. It acknowledges that cultural meaning, tradition and ways of doing things will be different from mainstream norms and belief systems. Whilst it is an important aspect of supervision for Aboriginal staff it does not replace individual supervision.
Contact the executive director, Aboriginal Engagement and Coordination for further guidance on cultural supervision.
The development of a supervision agreement provides the opportunity to discuss and agree to the formal supervision requirements (responsibilities, structure and recording). The roles and responsibilities of supervisee and supervisor will be clarified and reviewed as needed. If the supervisee and supervisor cannot agree on the requirements of supervision, the supervisor should discuss and develop strategies with their line manager.
This agreement must be regularly reviewed, at least annually, as a separate task from the Reaching Forward session. Examples of circumstances where a review of the supervision agreement is warranted include: when the supervisee change role/location or when there is a change of supervisor.
Refer to the Supervision agreement template (in related resources).
Supervisors and supervisees must have the opportunity to clarify individual responsibilities within their supervisory relationship. This includes a discussion of prior supervisory experiences and their value.
The supervisor's responsibilities are to:
The supervisee's responsibilities are to:
Refer to Supervision record template (in related resources).
Structure of supervision
As part of developing the supervision agreement, the supervisee and supervisor discuss:
The agenda could include the following:
Discuss the circumstances where interruptions to supervision will be permitted, for example unplanned priority work, illness, emergencies and/or leave arrangements. In these circumstances a revised date must be set.
The supervisor will respond to urgent requests for informal discussions/coaching which may be face-to-face discussions, via video conference or by telephone.
Consultation is a day-to-day activity that is part of progressing case/service delivery work and supports staff learning and emotional wellbeing. However, it is not supervision and the occurrence of frequent consultation must not be cited as having constituted supervision.
Informal and formal advice sought from the supervisor on an ad hoc basis will occur frequently, usually in relation to seeking an immediate approval or case/service delivery direction, and on occasion for personal learning or support.
Meeting the formal requirements for cultural consultation in case/service delivery management is a requirement set out in the Children and Community Services Act (2004), and the Casework Practice Manual.
Formal and informal consultation with specialist colleagues such as psychologists, senior practice development officers, Aboriginal practice leaders, and education officers will occur on a needs basis to inform case practice/service delivery.
Informal consultation and debriefing with colleagues can enrich experience and learning.
A mutually respectful relationship forms the basis of quality supervision. Integral to this is the need for the supervision process and information exchanged to be confidential. This is particularly important in relation to information regarding performance issues or personal issues which may be impacting on a staff member’s ability to perform their tasks. This may include indirect trauma resulting from exposure to the complexity of our work including working with client’s anger, grief and loss, managing dysfunctions within families and working generally in the child protection field.
There may be circumstances where the district director or other relevant staff may need to be made aware of information resulting from the supervision process. In these cases the employee must be advised and the matter discussed prior to the information being shared.
When the employee transfers to another area, the new supervisor will have access to their supervision record of matters other than case practice/service delivery decisions.
Staff and supervisors are expected to proactively raise and resolve issues openly within the supervisory relationship. Where issues remain unresolved, discussion and resolution must take place with a relevant senior manager. Refer to the formal Workplace issue and grievance resolution process as set out in the Administration Manual for further information.
The two types of recording are:
Case practice/service delivery matters
The supervisor’s decisions about case management/service delivery must be identifiable on the case file for legal and quality assurance purposes.
As part of formal individual supervision, case plans must be reviewed and updated by case workers and supervisors. Where case plans are made or changed/reviewed during supervision, the case worker must record this in Assist under the category of Case Plan Supervision. The reason selected for the forum of the Case Plan Supervision is either:
Case workers and line managers must record on Assist any review of an existing case plan and if required update plans during or after a supervision session. If any changes relate to relevant care planning decisions for Aboriginal
children, they must be endorsed by the district’s Aboriginal practice leader.
There are a range of options to record case practice/service delivery matters and decisions on Assist, which occur outside of supervision such as:
Matters other than case practice/service delivery decisions
Matters other than case practice/service delivery decisions must be recorded in the Supervision Record (in related resources) and uploaded to the Performance Management Tracking System.
Information recorded could include:
The supervisor documents this information and the supervisee co-signs. If there is disagreement, note it in the template. This information is then used when reviewing and planning the annual Reaching Forward session.
Where performance concerns are being addressed through supervision, supervisors must complete relevant documentation, such as the Performance Observation Log or the Performance Improvement Action Plan.
Performance Management Tracking System
District directors must regularly review the Performance Management Tracking System to monitor whether staff are receiving regular supervision.
Supervision Records must be stored on the Performance Management Tracking System.
The documents must be added on a monthly basis and are only accessible by the supervisee and their supervisor.
For further information refer to the Performance Management Tracking System User Guide (in related resources).