The Wood Special Commission of Inquiry revealed that NSW had one of the lowest thresholds for reporting in Australia, resulting in the Child Protection Helpline being overwhelmed with reports about children who, while not receiving ideal care and whose families were in need of support, did not require the critical step of statutory intervention by the State.
In response to this finding, Child Wellbeing Units (CWUs) were established in the four government agencies responsible for the largest number of child protection reports: NSW Health, NSW Police Force, Department of Education and Training, and Department of Human Services. Together, these agencies make up more than 60 per cent of all cases reported to the Child Protection Helpline.
Trained staff in CWUs assist mandatory reporters within their agencies to use the Mandatory Reporter Guide and ensure that all concerns that reach the threshold of risk of significant harm are reported to the Child Protection Helpline.
Where concerns do not meet the new threshold, information about the child or young person will be entered into WellNet, the CWU database. This information is only visible to staff in other CWUs, which assists in assessing cumulative risk of harm. CWU assessment officers help mandatory reporters to identify services available within their own agency, or in other organisations, which could support the family.
CWUs began operations on 24 January 2010. Contact details are available within relevant agencies on intranets and phone directories.
Mandatory reporters in agencies without a CWU should use the Mandatory Reporter Guide to assess whether their concerns meet the threshold of risk of significant harm. If this threshold is met, the mandatory reporter must report to the Community Services Child Protection Helpline on 133 627.
If the risk of significant harm threshold is not met, mandatory reporters can discuss possible actions with a supervisor or colleague, or contact the KTS Support Line on 1800 772 479. For assistance in identifying supports and services for the child and family, mandatory reporters can access other resources (e.g. Family Referral Services, if available, or the Human Services Network, Families NSW website, or a local referral or advice service).
More information is available in the Child Wellbeing Unit Factsheet. For the non-government sector and those agencies without a CWU, please read the Child Wellbeing Units: Agencies without a CWU Factsheet.