To guide child protection workers in completing referrals and Interactions.
Note: This entry is applicable to all staff employed by the Department of Communities (the Department).
When you receive contact in the form of a referral to the Department or via telephone, you must assess the information to determine whether any unborn infants or children are involved and whether the Department has a role.
If the referral relates to an unborn infant you must consider the resource Determining whether an infant is at risk of significant harm (in related resources) when completing your Interaction.
You must use the Interaction Tool (in related resources) to assist in determining whether the Department has a further role.
Interaction decision dates must be recorded within two days.
You must apply the Interaction Tool when assessing referrals of concerns about children in the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Department's care.
You must record your use of the Interaction Tool using an Interaction on Assist.
What is a referral?
Referrals come to the Department in a variety of ways, such as email, telephone and in-person. They may contain information relating to unborn infants, children and families that is of concern, including allegations of abuse and neglect.
Referrals are encouraged via Form 441 Child Protection Concern Referral (in related resources) and sent to CPDUTY@cpfs.wa.gov.au or 08 9218 5686 (fax).
Who receives referrals?
Referrals are received by the Central Intake Team. Local metropolitan offices may receive 'walk-ins' on occasion (clients presenting at reception), these are dealt with by the local office.
The local Child Safety Team receives referrals. There is a local process in place for staff within the Child Safety Team who receive and action referrals.
The main office in each district receives and actions referrals for all offices in the district, for example, the Great Southern District Child Safety Team is based in Albany and receives and processes referrals for their Albany, Katanning and Manjimup offices.
What do we do with referrals?
Under s.31 of the Children and Community Services Act 2004 you may cause inquiries to be made about a child if you receive information that raises concerns about a child's wellbeing. You use Interactions on Assist to record the referral details and the actions taken.
As part of an Interaction you are allowed to:
You should take these actions to gather more contextual information about the referral that has been made. Further information can assist you in determining what recording is required, whether there are child protection concerns and what further role the Department may have.
Once you have gathered sufficient information or completed the actions above then you must apply the Interaction Tool (in related resources).
The Interaction Tool will provide a recommendation about whether the matter should be intaked for further action or not. Your role is to consider all the information, including the Duty Interaction Tool's recommendation, and determine whether the outcome of the Interaction is:
Open the Duty Interaction Tool. This is an Excel document and does not need to be saved on Objective. Follow the Interaction Tool Practice Guidance (in related resources) for assistance with completing the Interaction Tool.
Once you have completed the tool, the results should be added to the Interaction on Assist in the following ways:
Under the 'Action' drop down, select 'Additional Information' and click 'Go'.
Click the spy glass and from the list of items, choose 'Intake Decision Guide', then 'Launch Selected Script'.
Fill out the relevant information, repeating what you entered into the Interaction Tool. This section does not populate a final score or recommendation, this is why we continue to use the Excel document.
In the 'Initial Assessment' box you should include the Intake Tool Recommendation and Intake Tool Score. For more guidance on this refer to the next section on this page.
Interactions should be concise and focused on assessing and analysing the information available at the time of the interaction. The
Interaction Tool (in related resources) recommendation and score should correlate to the assessment you articulate.
You are allowed to override the recommendation made by the
Interaction Tool, but this decision should be made in consultation with a team leader and a strong rationale provided in your assessment.
When an Interaction requires no further action:
When an Interaction is being intaked to Initial Inquiry:
When an Interaction is being intaked to Child Safety Investigation (CSI):
If you are recording an Interaction, you must refer to the below list when determining the primary issue and outcome that you will record:
(Relates to the next step in the process, not whatever action you have already undertaken e.g. if the Interaction is being closed, then the outcome should be recorded as 'Assessed as No Further Role')
Only to be used when the matter is going to be intaked for a Family Support activity or for Parent Support intakes, Bereavement Assistance, matters relating to Family Court when there is a request for information from the Family Court to the Family Court Liaison Officer and/or Leaving Care Services
May also be used at the conclusion of a CSI when there are final actions required following the completion of the investigation
Used primarily by the Crisis Care Unit and Central Intake Team to capture all other crisis issues
For example, any matters not relating to a child should not be recorded as Family Support, but as Other Crisis Issue
There are some circumstances where there is no organisational value in recording an Interaction and you should use professional discretion in determining these. Records should be purposeful and contain enough information about the situation and client that they can be easily recalled at a later date.
You are not required to record every phone call that you receive; telephone logs are used for this purpose.
If there is insufficient information recorded in an Interaction on Assist, it will be nearly impossible for someone to locate it again. This can include situations where there is little or no context, no identifying client information and/or no child protection concerns.
Examples where you may not be required to record an Interaction include:
request for bed count (by a service provider with no client identifying details)
internal transfers within districts, e.g. within Statewide Referral and Response Service
incorrect calls to the service
callers wishing to provide charitable donations
callers enquiring about employment opportunities
callers where no identifying information is provided or the caller refuses to provide information and there are no child protection concerns identified
warm transfers to other services where no client information is provided
request for taxi transport by lone adult (when not a victim of FDV)
request for information about external service providers, and/or
adult callers (repeat callers) where no child is identified and no child protection concerns are identified.
For cases open to the Department, you are expected to forward information to the local district office for their information and follow up.
You must apply the Interaction Tool when assessing referrals of concerns about children in the CEO's care. The tool should be used in the same way for children in the CEO's care as it is used for all other referrals about children not in the CEO's care. This provides a consistent threshold in practice for when matters require further action and when they don't.
You must record your use of the Interaction Tool using an Interaction on Assist. This provides a record of the information that you have received about a child in the CEO's care and transparency about how your decision was reached about whether or not to take further action.
Procedural fairness, also referred to as natural justice, is concerned with the procedures used by a decision-maker to obtain an outcome, rather than the actual outcome reached. Principles of procedural fairness should be applied to all decisions that may negatively affect the rights, interests or legitimate expectations of an individual, this can include actions taken as part of an Interaction.
The following three principles underpin our processes:
The Hearing Rule – the decision-maker must give an opportunity to an individual whose interests may be adversely affected by their decision the opportunity to be heard, before the decision is made.
The Bias Rule – the decision-maker should be unbiased in the matter to be decided.
The No Evidence Rule – the decision that is made must be based on logical evidence (proven on the balance of probabilities – that is, there is a real possibility, that cannot be sensibly ignored, having regard to the nature and gravity of the feared harm in the particular case).
The Department follows the Western Australia Ombudsman's Guidelines for procedural fairness (in related resources). All authorised officers should be familiar with the concept of procedural fairness and aim to promote this in their work.