Following a string of child neglect cases in recent weeks, both Federal and state governments are under increasing pressure to develop a national approach to child protection. The Federal Government aims to develop a national framework for child protection. Is this an area of opportunity where ICT can add value?
One of the issues frequently raised is the need for improved co-ordination and communication. At present, statutory responsibility for child protection rests with the states and there is little or no interchange of information between state and Federal authorities. For example, each state has its own 'working with children' check.
In a recent ABC interview, Federal Minister for Families, Jenny Macklin observed that "One of the things that has come out from the reports over the last few days is the very clear need to have much better sharing of child protection information both within and across jurisdictions.”
The Federal Government is currently consulting with states and NGOs on establishing a national child protection framework. On 25 May, the Federal Government released a discussion paper called Australia's children: safe and well: national framework for protecting children.
The Paper reported "there is a lot we still don't know and are not able to understand because of differences in the ways jurisdictions collect and report data". One of the key measures for consideration in the national framework discussion paper is “Improving child protection systems” including:
- Improving data collection and knowledge sharing
- Better sharing of police intelligence across jurisdictions
The Federal Government plans to finalise this framework before end of 2008.
It is clear that the Federal Government intends to take the lead on child protection, and that FaHCSIA will take the running on any national program.
Additional funds to implement this framework are likely to be allocated in the 2009-10 financial year. This is likely to include a national system to collect and share child protection information between state and Federal Governments, and possibly also with NGOs.
Intermedium will provide further information in its forthcoming government sales training courses, about how the ICT implications of initiatives such as this can be monitored. Issues such as the current child protection debate that attract significant public attention and involve the Minister are likely to result in changes to departmental priorities.