Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women

Investigation and assessment

Graphs

Number of notifications requiring investigation, by outcome, Queensland, 2006-07 to 2010-11 Number of notifications requiring investigation, by outcome, Queensland, 2012-13 to 2016-17

YearSubstantiatedUnsubstantiatedUnable to be commenced / completedInvestigations not yet finalised
2006-07 10108 10734 1151 6518
2007-08 8028 10021 805 6149
2008-09 7315 11140 693 4260
2009-10 6922 10429 674 3860
2010-11 6598 10429 545 4083

Proportion of notifications requiring investigation, by outcome, Queensland, 2006-07 to 2010-11 Proportion of notifications requiring investigation, by outcome, Queensland, 2012-13 to 2016-17

YearSubstantiatedUnsubstantiatedUnable to be commenced/completedInvestigations not yet finalised
2006-07 35.5 % 37.6 % 4 % 22.9 %
2007-08 32.1 % 40.1 % 3.2 % 24.6 %
2008-09 31.3 % 47.6 % 3 % 18.2 %
2009-10 31.6 % 47.7 % 3.1 % 17.6 %
2010-11 30.5 % 48.2 % 2.5 % 18.9 %

Tables

DescriptionAnnualQuarterly
IA.1: Notifications requiring investigation, by investigation and assessment outcome, Queensland Excel (XLSX, 17 KB) Excel (XLSX, 20 KB)
IA.2: Notifications, by whether investigation and assessment was commenced, Queensland Excel (XLSX, 16 KB) Excel (XLSX, 22 KB)
IA.3: Notifications with a commenced investigation and assessment, by whether the investigation and assessment commencement was within timeframe, Queensland Excel (XLSX, 17 KB) Excel (XLSX, 21 KB)
IA.4: Notifications with a substantiated or unsubstantiated outcome, by time taken to complete investigation and assessment, Queensland Excel (XLSX, 16 KB) Excel (XLSX, 19 KB)
IA.5: Notifications with a finalised investigation, by investigation and assessment outcome, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status, Queensland Excel (XLSX, 18 KB) Excel (XLSX, 22 KB)
IA.6: Notifications requiring investigation, by investigation and assessment outcome and region, Queensland Excel (XLSX, 22 KB) Excel (XLSX, 22 KB)

What is an investigation and assessment?

All notifications recorded by the department are required to be investigated, and an assessment is made as to whether the child needs protection.

As soon as a notification is received by child safety, the assessment of a child’s safety begins. The child protection history of the child and family is reviewed and, where necessary, the department will contact other agencies and professionals such as teachers, police and service providers to gather information about the child. At this stage, the investigation and assessment is not considered to be commenced even though child safety officers are actively working on gathering information about the safety and wellbeing of the child.

Commencement is recorded when the child is sighted and interviewed. The child safety officer interviews the child’s parents and may gather information from other individuals, such as family and those in the family’s support network, as well as other agencies. At this stage, the primary focus of child safety officers is on assessing the child’s immediate safety.

Where the concerns relate to an unborn child who may be in need of protection after birth, the investigation is deemed commenced when the pregnant woman is first sighted, interviewed, and consents to the investigation and assessment.

In exceptional circumstances where a child safety officer is not able to access and sight a child or pregnant woman, a police officer or health professional can sight the child or pregnant woman on the department's behalf.

The response timeframes for sighting and interviewing the child are:

  • 24 hours
  • 5 days
  • 10 days

There are a number of reasons that may prevent the sighting and interviewing of a child or pregnant woman within the required timeframe. For example:

  • the child’s family cannot be located due to the notifier providing insufficient information to identify the family
  • the family has moved interstate
  • 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.

Investigations will usually be conducted with the consent of the parents. Where this is not possible or appropriate, an application is made for an assessment order to enable the actions required to complete the investigation.

Once a child safety officer has considered the information gathered during an investigation and completed an assessment, a decision is made about whether the child is in need of protection. In Queensland, an investigation and assessment must be completed and approved within 60 days of the date of the notification.

Why this topic is important

The department's response to all notifications is to conduct an investigation and assessment. A thorough investigation and assessment is critical in determining the current and ongoing safety and protective needs of the child.

Of the 22,683 notifications recorded by the department in 2016-17, 22,456 were able to be commenced. Of these, 20,967 (93.4 per cent) had an investigation commenced (the child was sighted). Of these 20,967 notifications, 38.8 per cent commenced within the policy timeframe (24hrs, 5 days or 10 days).

For notifications requiring a 24hr response, 91.1 per cent were commenced within the required 24 hr timeframe.

Of the 22,683 notifications recorded by the department in 2016-17, 20,351 had an investigation finalised in the reporting period. Of these, 19,273 (45.3 per cent) were finalised within the required 60 day timeframe. Of the 20,351 notifications with a finalised investigation:

  • 6,242 (30.7 per cent) resulted in an outcome of 'substantiated' - where it is assessed that the child has suffered significant harm, is suffering significant harm, or is at unacceptable risk of suffering significant harm. Where the risk of future significant harm is present and the child does not have a parent able and willing to protect them, a child is considered to be in need of protection.
  • 13,031 (64.0 per cent) resulted in an outcome of 'unsubstantiated' - where there was no evidence that the child has suffered significant harm, is suffering significant harm, or is at unacceptable risk of suffering significant harm. In these instances the family may be referred to a support service to help them address risk factors that may lead to possible significant harm in the future.
  • 604 (3.0 per cent) resulted in an outcome of ‘other’ - where a full investigation for a child was not possible for a variety of valid reasons, and the case was closed. For example, this may occur in circumstances where:
    • the family has relocated to another state or overseas, or
    • insufficient information is provided and the family cannot be located, despite all reasonable having been undertaken to identify the family and their location.
  • 474 (2.3 per cent) resulted in an outcome of ‘no subject child’, where it is determined during the investigation that the child does not exist or should not be a part of the investigation (the child is not related to the family or event leading to the investigation).

NOTE: From 2015-16, the category ‘other’ has been renamed (previously named “no investigation and assessment outcome”) to avoid misinterpretation.

NOTE: From September 2016 reporting, a new category ‘No subject child’ has been added to separately report on outcomes where it is determined the child does not exist or is not a member of the household being investigated. Prior to September 2016 reporting, no subject child was reported in the ‘other’ category.

There were a further 2,332 notifications recorded as not yet finalised, representing 10.3 per cent of all notifications recorded in 2016-17.

A notification may not be finalised within the financial year it commenced and/or not finalised within the required 60 day timeframe for a number of valid reasons. For example, sometimes a family will actively avoid contact during the investigation and it will take a longer amount of time to complete the investigation. In some cases, the complexity of the family structure requires greater engagement with the family and increased time to complete the investigation.

Is your feedback

Please submit your comments on the department's Compliments and Complaints section.

Please submit your comments on the Queensland Government website Contacts form.