What we do

Child safety focusses on engaging with families earlier and, where appropriate, keeping children safely at home.

Commenced investigations

Commenced investigations

All notifications recorded by the department are required to be investigated and an assessment made as to whether the child needs protection. For each notification a response priority timeframe is recorded in which Child Safety must commence the investigation and assessment. The response priority timeframe takes into account multiple factors about the child’s situation to assess the immediate risk of harm to the child and prioritise the response.

The following response priorities are used:

  • 24 hours
  • 5 business days or
  • 10 business days

For 24 hour matters, the investigation and assessment is commenced when the child is sighted and, where developmentally appropriate, interviewed. In exceptional circumstances where a child safety officer is not able to access and sight a child, other action may be taken such as a police officer or health professional can sight the child on Child Safety’s behalf.

For 5 and 10 day matters, the investigation and assessment is commenced when either:

  • the child has been sighted and, where developmentally appropriate, interviewed
  • for unborn children, the pregnant woman is interviewed if she consents to the investigation and assessment for the unborn child or
  • information has been sought and received from an external agency that informs the assessment about the child’s safety. Sighting and interviewing the child is required for the investigation and assessment to be recorded as finalised.

When commencement may be delayed

There are a number of reasons that may prevent the commencement of an investigation including:

  • the child’s family cannot be located due to the notifier providing insufficient information to identify the family
  • the family has moved interstate
  • an investigation relating to an unborn child is delayed until after the birth of the child when there is a high probability the pregnant woman will relocate to avoid the investigation.

Investigation and assessments commenced

Source: Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs.

What is being counted

  1. Data is for the year ending the reference date (12 months of data).

  2. Counts the number of notifications requiring an investigation and assessment by whether they were commenced, not yet commenced or were unable to be commenced.

  3. Where a report relates to more than one child, a notification is counted for each child. 

  4. Where a child is the subject of more than one report of alleged harm or risk of harm during the period, a notification is counted for each instance.

  5. Non-Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander: Includes non-Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children and children whose Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander status is unknown or not stated.

Definition notes

  1. Investigation and assessment: An investigation and assessment (I&A) is Child Safety's response to all notifications, and is the process of assessing a child’s need for protection, if there are allegations of harm or risk of harm to the child (Child Protection Act 1999, section 14 (1)).

    The outcome of an I&A may be either:

    - Substantiated

    - Unsubstantiated

    - Other or

    - No Subject Child - where it is determined the child does not exist or is not a member of the household being investigated, and the case is closed.

  2. Investigations commenced: For a 24 hour matters the investigation is recorded as commenced as soon as the child is sighted. For 5 and 10 days matters the investigation is recorded as commenced as soon as information gathering to assess the child’s current circumstances and safety is undertaken. Sighting and interviewing children is required for all matters.

  3. Commencement not yet recorded: The investigation is commenced but is not yet recorded on the central system or commencement has been delayed due to circumstances beyond the department's control (the family has moved interstate; or commencement of an investigation relating to an unborn child is delayed until after the birth of the child when there is a high probability the pregnant woman will relocate to avoid the investigation).

  4. Investigations unable to be commenced: The investigation was not able to be commenced and has been closed with a "no investigation and assessment outcome possible" recorded. This occurs where, despite all possible attempts, the department is unable to engage with the family due to circumstances beyond its control (for example, insufficient information has been provided and the family cannot be located; or the family has moved interstate). 

  5. Response timeframe: Response priority is a Structured Decision Making (SDM) tool to guide the timeframe in which an investigation and assessment is to be commenced. 
    There are three response timeframes:
    - immediate or within 24 hours
    - within 5 business days or
    - within 10 business days.

Time series notes

From September 2019: Commencement criteria was expanded for five and 10 day matters to include gathering of information to assess the child’s current circumstances and safety, or the unborn child’s safety after birth. Information gathering may include receipt of information through an email exchange, phone discussion, receipt of a Section 159N information request, a SCAN team meeting, or a locally convened panel process with relevant partners. While commencement may be recorded as information gathering for five and 10 day matters, sighting and interviewing children will still be required as soon as practicable for all matters.

From June 2017: Records that are unable to be commenced (e.g. because the child does not exist) are now excluded from the calculation of the proportion commenced.

Proportion of investigation and assessments commenced within timeframe

Source: Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs.

What is being counted

  1. Data is for the year ending the reference date (12 months of data).

  2. Proportion of investigation and assessments that were able to be commenced and whether or not they were commenced within the response timeframe.

  3. Where a report relates to more than one child, a notification is counted for each child. Where a child is the subject of more than one report of alleged harm or risk of harm during the period, a notification is counted for each instance.

  4. Non-Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander: Includes non-Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander children and children whose Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander status is unknown or not stated.

Definition notes

  1. Investigation and assessment: An investigation and assessment (I&A) is Child Safety's response to all notifications, and is the process of assessing a child’s need for protection, if there are allegations of harm or risk of harm to the child (Child Protection Act 1999, section 14 (1)).

    The outcome of an I&A may be either:
    - Substantiated
    - Unsubstantiated
    - Other or
    - No Subject Child - where it is determined the child does not exist or is not a member of the household being investigated, and the case is closed.

  2. Response timeframe: Response priority is a Structured Decision Making (SDM) tool to guide the timeframe in which an investigation and assessment is to be commenced. There are three response timeframes are:
    - immediate or within 24 hours
    - within 5 business days or
    - within 10 business days.

  3. Commenced: For a 24 hour matters the investigation is recorded as commenced as soon as the child is sighted. For 5 and 10 days matters the investigation is recorded as commenced as soon as information gathering to assess the child’s current circumstances and safety is undertaken. Sighting and interviewing children is required for all matters.

  4. Response within timeframe: The investigation is commenced but is not yet recorded on the central system or commencement has been delayed due to circumstances beyond the department's control (the family has moved interstate; or commencement of an investigation relating to an unborn child is delayed until after the birth of the child when there is a high probability the pregnant woman will relocate to avoid the investigation).

  5. Response not within timeframe: The investigation was not commenced with the within the timeframe assessed by the department.
    There are a number of reasons that may prevent the commencement of an investigation including:
    - the child’s family cannot immediately be located despite Child Safety undertaking all reasonable steps, for example due to the notifier providing insufficient information to identify the family,
    - the family is actively avoiding contact with the department, or
    - commencement of an investigation relating to an unborn child is delayed until after the birth of the child, in order to minimise risk of significant harm.

Time series notes

From September 2019: Commencement criteria was expanded for five and 10 day matters to include gathering of information to assess the child’s current circumstances and safety, or the unborn child’s safety after birth. Information gathering may include receipt of information through an email exchange, phone discussion, receipt of a Section 159N information request, a SCAN team meeting, or a locally convened panel process with relevant partners. While commencement may be recorded as information gathering for five and 10 day matters, sighting and interviewing children will still be required as soon as practicable for all matters.

From June 2017: Records that are unable to be commenced (e.g. because the child does not exist) are now excluded from the calculation of the proportion commenced.