Terms of Reference
To inquire into and develop recommendations to reduce the incidence and negative impact of child neglect and abuse in Victoria, with specific reference to:
- The factors that increase the risk of abuse or neglect occurring, and effective prevention strategies.
- Strategies to enhance early identification of, and intervention targeted at, children and families at risk including the role of adult, universal and primary services. This should include consideration of ways to strengthen the capability of those organisations involved.
- The quality, structure, role and functioning of:
- family services;
- statutory child protection services, including reporting, assessment, investigation procedures and responses; and
- out-of-home care, including permanency planning and transitions; and what improvements may be made to better protect the best interests of children and support better outcomes for children and families.
- The interaction of departments and agencies, the courts and service providers and how they can better work together to support at-risk families and children.
- The appropriate roles and responsibilities of government and non-government organisations in relation to Victoria's child protection policy and systems.
- Possible changes to the processes of the courts referencing the recent work of and options put forward by the Victorian Law Reform Commission.
- Measures to enhance the government's ability to:
- plan for future demand for family services, statutory child protection services and out-of-home care; and
- ensure a workforce that delivers services of a high quality to children and families.
- The oversight and transparency of the child protection, care and support system and whether changes are necessary in oversight, transparency, and/or regulation to achieve an increase in public confidence and improved outcomes for children.
The Inquiry will consider the above in the context of differences amongst Victorian children and families, such as metropolitan and regional location.
The Inquiry process
The Inquiry Panel will make recommendations and provide advice to the government regarding the immediate, medium and longer term priorities to strengthen Victoria's family, child protection and associated service systems, and improve outcomes for Victorian children at risk.
The Inquiry will focus on policy and the service system that supports government policy and the Panel will not consider or make recommendations regarding the circumstances of individual cases, nor review individual organisations.
The Inquiry Panel may request input from an inquiry reference group on any matter it deems fit.
The Inquiry Panel will also utilise and reference previous reports and reviews, available literature, interstate and international experience and seek submissions from and consult with:
- relevant experts;
- service providers (universal, adult, family and child protection);
- front line workers and managers;
- families and children who have personally experienced child protection and out-of-home care services;
- foster and kinship carers;
- police and courts; and
- a broad range of government services (including early childhood, education, health and mental health, family violence and housing services).
The Inquiry Panel will provide a report to the Minister for Community Services by 4 November 2011. The report will be tabled in Parliament.
[The Minister for Community Services announced on 21 September 2011 that at the Inquiry Panel's request the deadline for the Report was extended to 27 January 2012.]
Wednesday 22 September 2011
Community Services Minister Mary Wooldridge today announced that, at the Inquiry panel’s request, the reporting date for the Protecting Victoria’s Vulnerable Children Inquiry has been extended to 27 January 2012.
Tuesday 28 June 2011
The Inquiry into child protection has begun holding its metropolitan Public Sittings, with Sittings in Melbourne on 28 June and 5 July as part of its consultations with the community.
Wednesday 18 May 2011
The Inquiry into child protection has begun holding Public Sittings across regional Victoria as part of its extensive community consultation, starting in Geelong today.
Monday 28 February 2011
The Inquiry into child protection has invited written submissions and outlined the processes the Inquiry will follow, at its first public meeting in Melbourne today.
Monday 31 January 2011
Premier Ted Baillieu today launched the inquiry Protecting Victoria's Vulnerable Children to comprehensively investigate systemic problems in Victoria's child protection system and make recommendations to strengthen and improve the protection and support of vulnerable young Victorians.