Following extensive consultation with staff and stakeholders, the Specialist Child Protection Unit was established in October 2020 to elevate the profile of child protection and provide a leading voice on child protection matters, both within the Department of Communities (Communities) and across the sector. The Unit provides a system stewardship approach to adopting best practice, embracing culturally responsive services and embedding sector-wide continuous improvement, with the aim to improve outcomes for children, young people and their families.
The establishment of the Unit is a key priority for Communities’ Agency Capability Program (ACP), which is seeking to reform the agency’s capability to better deliver services.
About the Unit and team
The Unit consists of some of the former Professional Practice Unit staff, now known as the Child Protection Practice Team, as well as the former Central Review Team, the Advocate for Children in Care and Strategic Policy staff. Staff will collaborate with our internal and external partners to strengthen our system, processes and practice and support our frontline staff to empower families and communities to keep their children safe.
The Unit's key functions will focus on leadership, practice and reviews, training, support and development, stakeholder engagement and strategic policy, with a strong cultural lens over each of these elements.
As the Unit is in its infancy, staff are focusing on integrating existing resources, knowledge and skills as well as establishing new ways of working within the Unit, across Communities and with our external stakeholders
In May 2020, the project team began a consultation process to engage with internal and external stakeholders regarding the establishment of the Unit. Stakeholders were asked to comment on what functional and focus areas the Unit should focus on and any perceived opportunities for improvement within the child protection system. The project team also collected feedback through 89 engagement sessions with staff and external stakeholders.
The Unit’s establishment was governed by an Internal Working Group comprising senior staff from divisions across Communities, and an External Reference Group, chaired by the Director General and comprising external stakeholders with expertise and experience related to children, families, community and the Child Protection sector. The project team worked in partnership with these groups to establish the Unit.