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2.1.5 Responding to concerns for children in care - critical incidents

Last Modified: 30-Oct-2019 Review Date: 02-Jan-2021

Purpose

To assist child protection workers (CPWs) in completing and recording Critical Incidents for children in the CEO's care.

Practice Requirements
  • You must determine whether the concerns you have received about a child in the CEO's care meet the definition of a Critical Incident or not. You must do this in consultation with a team leader and, where required, assistant district director. 

  • You must immediately notify a team leader and assistant district director if a child in the CEO's care is involved in a serious accident and/or receives a serious injury, is involved in a critical incident or has died. 

  • Potential legal claims must be progressed in a timely manner, whenever possible, otherwise an individual may become ineligible to make a claim

  • You must determine whether the concerns you have received about a child in the CEO's care meet the definition of a Critical Incident or not. You must do this in consultation with a team leader and, where required, an assistant district director. If you are unsure how to proceed or whether or not the matter is a Critical Incident, you must request a consult with the Duty of Care Unit.

Process Maps
Not applicable

Procedures

  • Overview
  • When to consult with the General Law Unit
  • Sub-types of Critical Incidents
  • Recording and actioning a Critical Incident
  • Overview

    Critical Incidents are a type of Duty of Care Notification. A Critical Incident is any incident that results in or is likely to result in, a child experiencing significant loss, harm or injury or that may result in a potential viable legal claim for a child. Critical Incidents must be recorded and do not relate to incidents where there are child protection concerns, including harm as a result of abuse or neglect. 

    You must immediately notify a team leader and assistant district director if a child in the CEO's care is involved in a serious accident and/or receives a serious injury, is involved in a critical incident or has died.

     You must immediately notify a team leader and assistant district director if a child in the CEO's care is involved in a serious accident and/or receives a serious injury, is involved in a critical incident or has died.

    A notification type of Critical Incident is recorded on Assist, against the relevant child, to document the incident or event that occurred, not the assessment of the event or incident.

    The Critical Incident should be completed and lodged as close as possible to the incident, or the Department becoming aware of the incident as it serves as a record of what has occurred and your plan to address it.

    Depending on the sub-type of Critical Incident, you may be required to complete Form 466 Duty of Care outcome report for the Duty of Care Unit. Critical Incidents that require a Form 466 report are listed below.

    These outcome reports provide an assessment of the incident and identify any further actions required.

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    When to consult with the General Law Unit

    It is important to advise the General Law Unit (GLU) of any circumstances which may give rise to a claim for a child in the CEO's care. Potential legal claims must be progressed in a timely manner, whenever possible, otherwise an individual may become ineligible to make a claim. The prescribed timeframes are set out in the Limitations Act 1935 and the Crown Suits Act 1947.

    Scenarios that you should notify GLU about include, but are not limited to:

    • motor vehicle accidents
    • serious accidental injuries where the actions or inactions of others have contributed
    • death of a family member or significant other (inheritance and superannuation)
    • victim of crime
    • dog attacks, and
    • workers compensation.
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    Sub-types of Critical Incidents

    Death – Accidental:  These notifications are recorded when a child in the CEO's care dies as a result of accidental injuries.   

    Recording requirements

    Outcome Report

    Example

    Manually generated from Assist 360 degree view and completed by the CPW

    Endorsed by TL

    Approved by ADD

    Form 466 Duty of Care outcome report

    A 16 year old girl is horse riding and is thrown from the horse.

    She sustains a broken neck and head injuries and dies as a result of the injuries.

     

    Death – Natural Causes:  These notifications are recorded when a child in the CEO's care dies as a result of natural causes. 

    Recording requirements

    Outcome Report

    Example

    Manually generated from Assist 360 degree view and CPW completes

    Endorsed by TL

    Approved by ADD

    An outcome report is not required.

    CPW should ensure all relevant medical reports and documents are retained on the child's Objective file.

     

    A two year old who has significant disabilities and was born with a congenital heart defect dies as a result of their heart condition.

    There are no suspicious circumstances surrounding their death.

     

    Death of Family Member:  These notifications are recorded when a family member of a child in the CEO's care dies.

    Note: Following the death of a parent, grandparent, other close relative or a person who has left a child an interest under a Will, the child may have a claim to a fairer division of the estate or a claim to dispute the validity of the Will or capacity of the person has made the will (the testator).  In circumstances where the deceased has left no Will, the child may still have a claim to the estate.  There is a six month limitation period in relation to inheritance claims.

    A child may also be able to make other claims if their parent had life insurance or superannuation or claims against any lottery or other prizes won by the parent prior to their death.      

    Recording requirements

    Outcome Report

    Example

    Manually generated from Assist 360 degree view and CPW completes

    Endorsed by TL

    Approved by ADD

    An outcome report is not required 

    The parents of a sibling group of four children die in a car accident.

     

    Death of Significant Other:  These notifications are recorded when a person who has a significant relationship with a child in the CEO's care dies.  See Note under Death of Family Member above   

    Recording requirements

    Outcome Report

    Example

    Manually generated from Assist 360 degree view and CPW completes

    Endorsed by TL

    Approved by ADD

    An outcome report is not required 

    The long term foster carer of a 17 year old girl in care dies, the child had been living with the foster carer since she was an infant.

       

    Dog Bite Victim: These notifications are required if a child in the CEO's care is injured as the result of being bitten or attacked by a dog. 

    Note: A child may be able to make a criminal injuries compensation claim in relation to an injury sustained as a result of being bitten or attacked by a dog.    

    Recording requirements

    Outcome Report

    Example

    Manually generated from Assist 360 degree view and CPW completes

    Endorsed by TL

    Approved by ADD

    Form 466 Duty of Care outcome report

    An approved foster carer has two large dogs who are known to growl at children and an agreement has been reached that the dogs are not permitted in the carers home.  During a storm the carer brings them into the house and one of the dogs bites a three year old girl on the hand.  This causes injuries that require medical attention and stitches.

     

    Family and Domestic Violence: These notifications are required when a child in the CEO's care is subject to or engages in family or domestic violence (including, for older children, with their partner).  

    Recording requirements

    Outcome Report

    Example

    Manually generated from Assist 360 degree view and CPW completes

    Endorsed by TL

    Approved by ADD

    Form 466 Duty of Care outcome report

    A 16 year old girl is self-selecting to live with her 21 year old partner in an unendorsed placement.  The Department receives a FDVIR from Police in relation to her being assaulted by her partner.

       

    Witness to Family and Domestic Violence:  These notifications are required when a child in the CEO's care witnesses but is not directly subject to or involved in family or domestic violence.     

    Recording requirements

    Outcome Report

    Example

    Manually generated from Assist 360 degree view and CPW completes

    Endorsed by TL

    Approved by ADD

    Form 466 Duty of Care outcome report

    A sibling group of two are placed with their grandparents who are approved family carers.  Their adult cousin and her husband attend the carer's home and there is an argument which becomes physical with the cousin being assaulted by her husband.  The incident is witnessed by the children in care.

     

    Motor Vehicle Accident:  These notifications are required when a child in the CEO's care is involved in a motor vehicle accident. 

    Note: A claim may exist if the child has been injured in a car accident generally as a passenger or a pedestrian.  If the child was under the age of 15 at the time of the accident, there is a six year limitation period for lodging the claim.  If the child was aged between 15 and 17 years at the time of the accident, the limitation period extends until they attain 21 years of age.  

    Recording requirements

    Outcome Report

    Example

    Manually generated from Assist 360 degree view and CPW completes

    Endorsed by TL

    Approved by ADD

    Form 466 Duty of Care outcome report 

    1.  An eight year old boy is being transported to contact by a Family Resource worker when they are hit by another car.  Both sustain minor injuries and require medical treatment.

    2. A 16 year old girl is injured in a car accident whilst on an outing with her foster carers.  She sustains a broken leg.

     

    Related to CSI in Carer Household:  These notifications are required when there is an allegation of physical, emotional or sexual abuse or neglect of a child who is not in the CEO's care by an adult, and that adult has had significant contact with a child in the CEO's care in the child's care arrangement.   

    Recording requirements

    Outcome Report

    Example

    Manually generated from Assist 360 degree view and CPW completes

    Endorsed by TL

    Approved by ADD

    Form 466 Duty of Care outcome report 

    A 16 year old girl is placed with a CSO approved foster carer.  The foster carer is in a relationship with a man who does not live with her but occasionally stays at the carers home.  There is an allegation that the man has sexually abused his own child which is being investigated by the Department via a CSI.

     

    Serious Accidental Injury:  These notifications are required when a child in the CEO's care suffers a serious accidental injury.  Examples include injuries that occur during medical procedures, sporting accidents, injuries associated with the failure of equipment. 

    Note:  Accidental injuries to children in care must be thoroughly assessed to determine if there was any negligence through the action or inaction of others that may have contributed to the harm or loss experienced by the child.     

    Recording requirements

    Outcome Report

    Example

    Manually generated from Assist 360 degree view and CPW completes

    Endorsed by TL

    Approved by ADD

    Form 466 Duty of Care outcome report  

    1. A 17 year old boy is injured in a school football game where he is tackled and falls to the ground. The game was being played on gravel and not on the grass oval due to the oval being repaired.  He sustains a shoulder injury requiring a shoulder reconstruction and several ankle fractures.

    2. A six year old is playing on a swing at a friend of her foster carers. The carer and her friend are supervising them.  The swing is faulty causing the child to fall from it and break her arm requiring surgery.

     

    Sexualised behaviours:  These notifications are required for children in the CEO's care who are:

    • under the age of 10 years and
    • participate in sexualised behaviour with other children within their care arrangement, and
    • the Interaction Tool indicates a CSI is required to assess if the child's sexualised behaviour is a result of having been sexually abused.
        

    Recording requirements

    Outcome Report

    Example

    Auto-generated from CSI

    Completed by CPW

    Endorsed by TL

    Approved by ADD

    CSI Outcome Report

    A six year old girl is placed with approved carers alongside an eight year old who is not related to her. The girl is found by the carer in bed with the boy who is attempting to put his penis in the girls bottom and asking her to play the sex game with him. There is no history of sexualised behaviour by either child and there had been no previous investigations of sexual abuse prior to, or during the care period.

    The CSI would be completed for the boy to assess if the child's sexual behaviour is a result of have been sexually abused.

     

    Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) Diagnosis: These notifications are required for children in the CEO's care who are aged 14 years or over and have been diagnosed with an STI.

    Note: If the child is under 14 years of age a CSI and Allegation of Abuse in Care Notification must be recorded instead of a Critical Incident. Refer to Chapter 2.2 Sexually transmitted infection notifications.   

    Recording requirements

    Outcome Report

    Example

    Manually generated from Assist 360 degree view and CPW completes

    Endorsed by TL

    Approved by ADD

    Form 466 Duty of Care outcome report  

    A 17 year old child in care is diagnosed with an STI and reports that she contracted this via sexual intercourse with her boyfriend who is the same age.  She is clear that their sexual relationship is consensual.

     

    Suicide Resulting in Death: The notifications are required in the event that a child in the CEO's care commits suicide.   

    Recording requirements

    Outcome Report

    Example

    Manually generated from Assist 360 degree view and CPW completes

    Endorsed by TL

    Approved by ADD

    An outcome report is not required 

    A 16 year old child in care commits suicide by hanging.

     

    Victim of Bullying: These notifications are required when a child in the CEO's care is subject to significant and/or persistent bullying in their care arrangement or in another environment such as a school or social or sporting club.     

    Recording requirements

    Outcome Report

    Example

    Manually generated from Assist 360 degree view and CPW completes

    Endorsed by TL

    Approved by ADD

    Form 466 Duty of Care outcome report

    A 13 year old girl is bullied by a group of girls at school that involves sending messages about her via social media to other young people, talking about her being a child in care and about her family history to other young people.  This behaviour has continued over a six week period and has resulted in the 13 year old refusing to attend school and self-harming.

     

    Victim of Crime or Alleged Crime: These notifications are required if a child in the CEO's care has been the direct victim or a secondary victim of a crime or an alleged crime.    

    Examples: Physical or sexual assault by unrelated persons, victim of domestic violence by a partner, witnessing a serious assault or murder or another person, theft or damage of personal belongings, illegal tattooing, body piercing and branding.   

    Recording requirements

    Outcome Report

    Example

    Manually generated from Assist 360 degree view and CPW completes

    Endorsed by TL

    Approved by ADD

    Form 466 Duty of Care outcome report

    1. A 14 year old girl is sexually assaulted by an older adult male who is not related to her.

    2. A 16 year old boy is mugged by a group of men, unrelated to him and is assualted by them.

    3. A 16 year old boy in a residential group home assaults a 15 year old boy in the same care arrangement by punching him repeatedly to the head.  The police are called and the 16 year old is charged.

     

    Victim of Traumatic Event:  These Notifications are required if a child in the CEO's care has been exposed to a traumatic event which may result in emotional or psychological harm but where a CSI is not required. 

    Examples: being subject to (but not participating in) sexualised behaviours by another child under the age of 10, witnessing incidents of verbal or physical violence in a public setting, witnessing a child or adult attempt suicide, finding a deceased person, witnessing another child in care assault a carer.    

    Recording requirements

    Outcome Report

    Example

    Manually generated from Assist 360 degree view and CPW completes

    Endorsed by TL

    Approved by ADD

    Form 466 Duty of Care outcome report

    1. A sibling group of three are placed with family carers and there is a house fire.They have been rescued by the emergency services.  They are unhurt but lose all their possessions in the fire.

    2. A six year old is subject to sexualised behaviours by an eight year old child in the same care arrangement on several occasions.  The six year old is desplaying signs of distress as a result of the behaviours.

     

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    Recording and actioning a Critical Incident

     

    You must determine whether the concerns you have received about a child in the CEO's care meet the definition of a Critical Incident or not. You must do this in consultation with a team leader and, where required, assistant district director.

    If you are unsure how to proceed or whether or not the matter is a Critical Incident you must request a consult with the Duty of Care Unit.

     

    If…

    Then…

    The concerns are about something that has happened to a child

    BUT

    you are not concerned that the child has been physically, emotionally or sexually abused or neglected by anyone.

    Continue with this practice guidance.

    ​You believe that the concerns relate to Standard of Care Concerns or Allegations of Abuse in Care 

    ​Refer to either:

    Standard of Care Concerns  Abuse in Care Allegations

     

    The Duty of Care Notification for a Critical Incident is not automatically generated as the result of any other actions on Assist, so you will need to manually generate the notification via the child's 360 view - refer to Assist User Guide Critical Incident Notification

    Your role is to complete the notification, with the relevant information (see "Recording notifications and approvals" in the Overview entry for details), as close as possible to when the incident occurred or when the Department were notified, and ensure that the notification is finalised.

    On Assist you must record the type of Duty of Care Notification as Critical Incident first - this will open the sub-type menu: 

     

    If necessary, the Duty of Care Unit will seek further information from the district and the Critical Incident can be returned to draft for updating.  

    Depending on the nature of the incident you may or may not be required to provide an outcome report of some kind (refer to sub-types table above to confirm). 

    You should confirm this before proceeding to prevent undertaking unnecessary work. 

    You should now assess the incident that occurred and consider the following actions (depending on the nature of the incident):

    • Refer the incident to police.
    • Speak to the child (you must not undertake a Child Assessment Interview) and/or other witnesses or significant people.
    • Gather relevant reports, such as medical, psychological or psychiatric.
    • Take or gather photographs.

    Refer to Form 466 Duty of Care outcome report for parameters on what is required.

     

    Complete the outcome report, if required, documenting your assessment, analysis and any impact on the child. Where possible, you should include references to relevant documents on Objective.

    This should be completed within 30 working days of the Department becoming aware of the incident.

    The outcome report, whether it is a CSI outcome report or Form 466 Duty of Care outcome report must be endorsed by a team leader and approved by an assistant district director. 

    If…

    Then…

    The outcome report is a Child Safety Investigation outcome report

    Once it is approved it will automatically become available to the Duty of Care unit

    ​The outcome report is a Form 466 Duty of Care outcome report       

    ​Once it is endorsed by a team leaer and approved by an assistant district director it must be forwarded to the Durty of Care Unit.

     

    Once the Duty of Care Unit has received the appropriate outcome report (if required) they will update the Duty of Care Notification screen in Assist to show it was received. A Duty of Care Unit staff member will then quality assure the report. If necessary, additional information will be sought from you.

    The Duty of Care Unit is responsible for briefing the General Law Unit, if required. Any briefing includes the original Duty of Care Notification, the outcome report, assessment of case practice compliance and any relevant support documentation.

     

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