To inform child protection workers of the delegations and procedures for giving consent for children who are under the parental responsibility of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) requiring medical or dental examinations and treatment including immunisations.
The guidelines also provide information on how to obtain immunisation records for children subject to a protection order (supervision) or where the CEO has parental responsibility.
Section 127 of the Children and Community Services Act 2004 (the Act) authorises the CEO to give consent (in lieu of a parent) for a child to undergo medical or dental treatment, including immunisations, where that child is:
The CEO has delegated the authority to child protection workers to approve medical/dental treatment and examinations (including immunisations), where anaesthetic consent and/or an operative procedure is not required for a child for whom the CEO has parental responsibility.
In situations where a child requires surgery or anaesthetic (other than local anaesthetic for dental treatment), child protection workers should follow the procedures set out in Chapter 3.2: Operative procedures and anaesthetic consent.
Medical and dental examination and treatment includes:
Medical and dental practitioners will seek parental consent as necessary. If ongoing examination or treatment is required, consent will usually be sought at the initial visit. The practitioner will request additional consent as required.
Practitioners must be advised of the child’s known medical history, including any medications being taken, prior to the child receiving treatment.
Medical and dental reports provided to child protection workers, including immunisation records, must be placed on the Child History Folder and a copy scanned to the Child History File. A copy of medical reports or information from reports may be provided to relevant parties (for example, a copy may be provided to parents and/or foster carers if appropriate).
Child protection workers must update the Quarterly Care Review (QCR) in Assist and the Child Health Passport to include any new health information.
Where it is possible and appropriate, parents should be advised when it is known that a child needs to have a medical or dental examination and/or treatment, including immunisation.
If the parents disagree and the matter is contentious, child protection workers must discuss this with their team leader. The best interests of the child should be the determining factor.
As part of the health care planning process, when a child first comes into care they will have a general medical examination followed by a health and development assessment. The child will then have a health and development assessment on an annual basis before the care plan review. Child protection workers arrange and provide consent for the medical check and health assessment. For details, refer to Chapter 3.4: Health care planning.
A foster carer can take a child to see a medical practitioner for a medical check, short-term illness (such as influenza) or emergency treatment (for example, a broken bone), without the consent of the child protection worker. However, the foster carer must inform the child protection worker as soon as possible afterwards.
If a child needs a dental check and/or treatment (and it cannot be provided through the School Dental Service for school age children), they can be seen at a public dental clinic.
Dental Health Services will prioritise referrals for children in care and apply the 100% subsidy rate. Child protection workers can call Dental Health Services on (09) 9313 0555 for information on the closest public dental clinic or view the Dental Health website (click here or in related resources) under the Adult Dental Service heading and choose clinic locations.
The following forms (in related resources) must be completed and provided at the appointment:
If a child requires a dental procedure that involves a general anaesthetic, then a submission for anaesthetic consent is required. Refer to Chapter 3.2: Operative procedures and anaesthetic consent.
Immunisation is a simple, safe and effective way of protecting children against harmful diseases that can cause serious health problems in the community.
From 1 January 2016, immunisation requirements to receive Child Care Benefit, Child Care Rebate, and Family Tax Benefit Part A end of year supplement changed and apply to children and young people under 20 years of age. These changes also affect people who claim Grandparent Child Care Benefit, Special Child Care Benefit or Jobs, Education and Training Child Care Fee Assistance.
This new measure will most likely affect a foster carer’s eligibility to these payments where they receive the payment for a child in care and that child is not fully immunised, unless he or she is exempt for medical reasons. It is important that child protection workers make sure that children in the CEO’s care are immunised (unless there is an exemption for medical reasons from a doctor or immunisation provider).
Vaccines recommended by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) for children are funded by the Australian Government and provided free of charge. Immunisations can be obtained from Community Health Clinics, general practitioners (GPs), Regional Public Health Units, some Local Government Councils and Aboriginal Community Health Services. Note that GPs may charge a consultation fee.
The Year 7 school-based vaccination program is provided free of charge. GPs can offer this vaccination for students who did not or could not access it through the school program.
Immunisation providers will seek consent for immunisations as required. If an immunisation provider requests written consent, child protection workers can complete a Form 589 Immunisation Consent Form. The form must be signed and forwarded to the immunisation provider directly or given to the foster carer or support person who will be attending the appointment with the child.
If the foster carer is taking the child to the appointment, child protection workers should remind them to take the Child Health Passport so it can be updated by the immunisation provider.
The Childhood Immunisation Schedule (funded by the National Immunisation Program) lists the vaccines recommended for all children from birth to 5 years of age.
For information about immunisation providers and/or for appointment bookings:
The Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) records details of vaccinations given to people of all ages who live in Australia. Immunisation providers use the AIR to check and update the immunisation status of a child. Parents and guardians can obtain a copy of the child’s immunisation details at any time (AIR history statement).
Child protection workers can also telephone the Austrial Immunisation Register Wards of State enquiry line 1800 037 723 for information.
Once a child has been issued with a Medicare card, child protection workers may access his or her immunisation records from AIR. If access is required before the Medicare card is issued, a written request should be sent to WA Health using the Form 595 – Letter of Authorisation to Obtain Immunisation Records (in related resources). For more advice, contact AIR Skill Group WOS on 1800 037 723.
Obtaining an immunisation history statement for a child where the CEO has parental responsibility
Evidence of care for a child under the parental responsibility of the CEO (for example, a Children’s Court order) is not required to obtain an immunisation history statement when the child's Medicare card has been amended to show the child's current address details as that of the Department. In this instance, child protection workers must complete Form 593 Authority to Obtain Immunisation Records and fax it to AIR on (08) 9214 8222.
If evidence of care is required to obtain an immunisation history statement for a child under the parental responsibility of the CEO, child protection workers must complete a Form 595 Letter of Authorisation to Obtain Immunisation Records and fax it to AIR - (08) 9214 8222 - with a copy of the current court order.
If a current court order cannot be provided, the letter (Form 595) should be completed advising that the Department is the responsible guardian for the child. Child protection workers will need to send a copy of the child's birth certificate (if available), Medicare number (if known), any other name the child may be known as, and any other information that may help Medicare to identify the child on the AIR database.
Child protection workers must update the Child Health Passport once the immunisation history statement is received, and scan and save a copy to the Child History File in Objective and place the original document in the child's Child History Folder.
Obtaining an immunisation history statement for a child who is the subject of a protection order (supervision)
If the child is under a protection order (supervision), child protection workers can request the child's immunisation records from AIR on behalf of the parents. Express written authorisation must be obtained from the parents. The parents must complete and sign a Form 594 Authority to Obtain Immunisation Records (Parental) and fax it to AIR - (08) 9214 8222 with a copy of the current court order.