To guide child protection workers on how to assess and respond to sexually transmitted infection (STI) notifications.
Dual Reporting by Medical and Health Staff Flowchart
Local Communities District Office Referral Flowchart
In response to recommendation 1987 of the Gordon Inquiry, protocols between the Department for Child Protection and Family Support, the Department of Health, Communicable Disease Control Directorate (CDCD) and the Western Australia Police Service (WA Police) Child Protection Squad, have been in operation since 1 July 2004.
Under the protocol Operational Directive 21 Interagency Management of Children Under 14 Years Diagnosed with a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) the Department of Health advises the Child Protection and Family Support division and WA Police of children under 14 years of age diagnosed with a sexually acquired STI.
The protocol involves parallel reporting:
Notification is made upon clinical diagnosis or on receipt of laboratory confirmation. The independent referral from the local health staff to the local district office prevents the delay in initiating and conducting a SWA.
STIs are defined as:
For more information about these infections please refer to Department of Health - Sexually Transmitted Infections and Bloodborne Viruses (in related resources).
Protocol for children aged under 14 years
The MRS and WA Police must be notified by the CDCD of all cases where a child aged less than 14 years has been diagnosed with an STI. The child's name, nature of the STI, and the details of the notifying local practitioner will be provided to the local district office and WA Police for assessment/investigation and follow up.
Children aged 14 and over
Children aged 14 and over are not covered by the Protocol for Children Diagnosed with an STI.
However, mandatory reporters who know of a child aged 14 years and over with a diagnosed STI, and who form a belief that sexual abuse has occurred or is occurring to the child, are required to submit a mandatory report under Division 9A of the Act. For further information refer to Chapter 2.2: Mandatory reports of child sexual abuse.
Notifications may be received by both:
Notifications of STIs from the CDCD are made to the MRS and are recorded as a concern for a child unless accompanied by a separate mandatory report received from a doctor or a nurse who has formed a belief, on reasonable grounds, that sexual abuse has occurred.
On receipt of a mandatory report from a doctor or a nurse regarding an STI the MRS records this as a mandatory report.
If the STI notification from the CDCD is not accompanied by a mandatory report it must be intaked for a SWA.
Each STI notification that has not been intaked at the district office must be opened for assessment.
On receipt of an STI notification from the CDCD, the MRS must record the notification as follows:
The following conditions will apply to the recording processes:
When a notification of an STI is made by the local health practitioner to the local district office, the duty officer must intake the concern as sexual harm and commence a SWA.
STI notifications received by local district offices should be recorded as follows:
In conducting an assessment following an STI notification district child protection workers, in consultation with their team leader and designated senior officer or senior practice development officer should convene a joint strategy meeting (face-to-face or via telephone) with WA Police and the local public health worker to coordinate planning and conduct of an assessment/investigation. Refer to the Operational Directive 21 Interagency Management of Children Under 14 Years Diagnosed with a Sexually Transmitted Infection for more information.
Undertaking a SWA for an STI notification
Where an STI notification is received and it has been determined that we have an ongoing role, a SWA must be undertaken with sexual harm documented as the primary concern. The following should be noted when completing the SWA Outcome Report for an STI notification:
Where a child has been diagnosed with an STI, it is likely that we will substantiate significant harm based on the medical evidence. The decision on whether someone is responsible for the harm is a separate assessment decision.
Previous STI infections
Two or more STI infections would indicate a pattern of regular unprotected sexual activity. It may also highlight concerns about the level of supervision and sexual health education received by the child.
Completing SWAs for STI notifications
Child protection workers should refer to Chapter 2.2: Assessment and investigation processes for specific procedures about undertaking a SWA. Child protection workers must forward a copy of the SWA Outcome Report to MRS for quality assurance, research and statistical purposes. The report should be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or faxed to 1800 610 614, attention to the STI Project Officer.
Any issues that cannot be resolved at a local level should be referred to the senior practice development officer in the district office, to the director case practice and coordination, or to the senior practice development officers within Metropolitan or Country Services in head office.
The STI Interagency Meeting is a quarterly meeting held by Child Protection and Family Support division, the Department of Health and the WA Police, as per the STI Protocol. SWAs conducted in relation to STI notifications are discussed at the meeting.
Child Protection and Family Support division, Department of Health and the WA Police are accountable for medical, psychosocial and any relevant legal follow up in relation to children diagnosed with STIs. We are represented at the meetings by the Director, CCU and the STI project officer. The STI project officer gathers information from local district staff and the completed SWAs before the meeting and presents a report on our behalf. Following the meeting, the STI project officer follows up on unresolved issues with district staff.
If the STI notification relates to a child who is in the CEO’s care, the child protection worker must commence a Duty of Care Notification as soon as practicable. Please refer to Chapter 4.2: Notification of death, serious injury or critical incident for details.