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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 6 Hansard (19 June) . . Page.. 2188 ..

The department in conjunction with other government agencies and the community is in the process of developing "Overarching Interagency Guidelines for Child Protection Intervention"a further mechanism to foster the development of commitment to ensuring the care and protection needs of children and young people are met. This will include the ongoing education of mandated reporters and their responsibilities in accordance with the Children and Young People Act 1999.

(4) Family Services provided a comprehensive report to the Coronial Inquiry about the continuous improvement processes being implemented. These improvements are not a comment on any deficiencies of mandatory reporting, they are improvements in the provision of services to protect children and young people from abuse and neglect.

Whilst the Coroners' findings are not yet available, the nature of the Coronial Inquiry was to determine the manner and cause of death and to consider the systemic issues arising from these inquiries. The Coroner will make a finding regarding the manner and cause of death and may make recommendations regarding systemic issues of concern, including any issues arising regarding mandatory reporting.

There are approximately 14,000 mandated persons in the ACT. This population changes as various professionals move in and out of the ACT, or of roles associated with services to children and young people. It has been identified that a shared training and information strategy across agencies needs to be developed to continue to ensure that mandated reporters are more readily able to access updated training in their workplaces.

The Mandatory Reporting booklet is currently being revised. This is being done in conjunction with the development and introduction of the Centralised Intake Service and the revised Risk Assessment Framework. The Centralised Intake Service will provide a single point of contact for reporters, both mandated and voluntary. This will ensure consistency in the receipt, recording and interventions undertaken by Family Services.

A number of protocols with key agencies are also currently being revised to ensure that the mechanisms for reporting between the agencies are in accordance with the legislative provisions and reflect current roles and responsibilities.

(5) This reference to more timely interventions relates to the process of education that has resulted in mandated persons being in a more informed position to reasonably suspect that a child or young person is being harmed. This process of education encourages these persons to contact and discuss their concerns with Family Services earlier and the information comes as a result of feedback from participants of mandatory reporting training in the ACT.

(6) The Children and Young People Act 1999 has been operational since 10 May 2000. A review of the legislation has been undertaken and further processes will be undertaken in the near future. Topics, including the desired outcomes of mandatory reporting, are presented to demonstrate that should there be any suggested changes to legislative provisions, there needs to be full and considered debate on the relevant issues.

The ultimate purpose of mandatory reporting is to increase the level of reporting to protect children from abuse and neglect. A strong body of opinion across a number of states supports the mandatory reporting process.

The Layton Report, Review of Child Protection, South Australia, March 2003 supports the need for ongoing training of mandated reporters as does the Association of Children's Welfare Agencies. They contend mandatory reporting is a vital development to have any

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