Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

New approach to protection of vulnerable children

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Jenny Macklin MP, Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

  • The Hon Julie Collins MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Community Services

The Australian Government will provide $1.1 million to trial a new tool to assess the needs of vulnerable children and their families in four communities across Australia.

The pilot project will test approaches to help doctors, nurses, teachers and childcare workers to identify issues early and respond to the needs of vulnerable children and their families.

The common assessment tool will make sure professionals working with vulnerable families share common terminology and have a common approach to responding to identified needs.

The common assessment tool, and referral approach, has been developed by a range of experts from peak medical organisations such as the Australian Medical Association, the Royal Australian College of Physicians, the Australian General Practice Network, the Australian Psychological Society, the Royal College of Nursing Australia and other peak organisations such as the Alcohol and Other Drugs Council of Australia, the Australian Association of Social Workers, the Australian Primary Principals Association and the Australian Centre for Child Protection.

The approach will now be trialled over the next 12 months by the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth as part of the Government’s effort to prevent child abuse and neglect.

At present, there is no common approach to assessment, referral and support across different agencies, states and territories. A common approach will make it easier for professionals to identify concerns and respond accordingly.

The groups participating in the pilot project will include Indigenous children, people with disability, from diverse language and cultural backgrounds and will come from both regional and metropolitan areas.

The pilot project follows a recommendation of the Common Approach to Assessment Referral and Support Ministerial Taskforce, established in April 2009, which brought together Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments, non-government organisations and expert practitioners to develop options for a national approach to identifying and responding to the needs of children at risk.

The Ministerial Taskforce’s final report, a project under the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020, is also being released today.

The Government thanks the Taskforce for its important contribution to improving the welfare of Australian children.

Further information on the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020 and the Taskforce’s final report can be found at