Responding to other concerns about the wellbeing of a child

This section will support you to determine how to respond to concerns about the wellbeing of a child which do not appear to be the result of child abuse.

In addition to reporting and referring wellbeing concerns to relevant authorities, you also have a duty of care to ensure that students feel safe and supported at school. Refer to Action 4: Providing Ongoing Support for advice on how to engage relevant allied health professionals and plan and document support strategies via a Student Support Planning process.

When to report wellbeing concerns to Child FIRST/Orange Door

Child FIRST (Child and family information, referral and support team) is a community-based referral point into Family Services.

Child FIRST, as the access point for family services, is progressively transitioning to The Orange Door.

In addition to reporting suspected abuse to appropriate authorities, you should make a referral to Child FIRST/Orange Door if:

  • you have a significant concern for a child’s wellbeing
  • your concerns have a low-to-moderate impact on the child
  • the child’s immediate safety is not compromised
  • you or your school has discussed the referral with the family and they are supportive of it.

Examples of concerns that school staff should report to Child FIRST/Orange Door include instances when a child’s care or development is significantly impacted on by:

  • parenting problems
  • pressure due to a family member’s physical or mental illness, substance abuse, or disability
  • vulnerability due to youth, isolation or lack of support
  • significant social or economic disadvantage.

When to report wellbeing concerns to Victoria Police

In addition to reporting suspected abuse to appropriate authorities, you must contact Victoria Police on 000 if the:

  • child’s (or anyone else involved) immediate safety is compromised
  • child is partaking in any risk-taking activity that is illegal and extreme in nature or poses a high risk to the child or any other person.

When to report wellbeing concerns to DFFH Child Protection

In addition to reporting suspected abuse to appropriate authorities, you should contact Department Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH) Child Protection if you hold wellbeing concerns for a child including all concerns that:

  • have a serious impact on a child’s safety, stability or development (including abandonment, death or incapacity, extreme risk-taking behaviour, or harm to an unborn child)
  • are persistent and entrenched and likely to have a serious impact on a child’s safety, stability or development
  • relate to a parent who cannot or will not protect the child from significant harm
  • include a belief that the family is likely to be uncooperative in seeking assistance.

Common grounds for DFFH Child Protection intervention

Abandonment

The child's parents have abandoned the child and after reasonable inquiries, the parents cannot be found, and no other suitable person can be found who is willing and able to care for the child.

Death or incapacity of parent or carer

The child’s parents are dead or incapacitated and there is no other suitable person willing and able to care for the child.

Extreme risk-taking behaviour

The child is displaying extreme risk taking behaviour, which has potentially severe or life threatening consequences. Examples include severe alcohol or drug use; unsafe sexual activity including prostitution; solvent abuse and chroming, and violent or dangerous peer group activity.

In addition to contacting DFFH Child Protection, it may also be necessary to contact Victoria Police where the risk taking activity is illegal and extreme in nature or poses a high risk to the child or any other person.

Harm to an unborn child

There is a threat of harm to an unborn child, including circumstances where a parent has previously demonstrated an inability to safely parent.

The Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 allows DFFH Child Protection to receive and respond to reports about an unborn child, which provides an important opportunity for earlier intervention and prevention. Prenatal reports may be particularly helpful to the unborn child in family violence situations, or where there are mental health concerns or drug or alcohol misuse during pregnancy.​