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Keep Them Safe initiatives

The following sections provide a record of initiatives that were established, enhanced or expanded through Keep Them Safe, as outlined on the reform’s website.

Child Wellbeing and Child Protection – NSW Interagency Guidelines

The Child Wellbeing and Child Protection – NSW Interagency Guidelines (the Guidelines) provide information and guidance to all agencies involved in the delivery of child wellbeing and child protection services in NSW.

Child Wellbeing Units

The Wood Special Commission of Inquiry into Child Protection Services in NSW revealed that NSW had one of the lowest thresholds for reporting in Australia, resulting in the Child Protection Helpline being overwhelmed with reports about children who, while not receiving ideal care and whose families were in need of support, did not require the critical step of statutory intervention.

In response to this finding, Child Wellbeing Units (CWUs) were established in the four government agencies responsible for the largest number of child protection reports: NSW Health, NSW Police Force, Department of Education, and Department of Family and Community Services.

Trained staff in CWUs assist mandatory reporters within their agencies to use the Mandatory Reporter Guide and ensure that all concerns that reach the threshold of risk of significant harm are reported to the Child Protection Helpline. Contact details are available within relevant agencies on intranets and phone directories.

Child Wellbeing Unit Review

In April 2011 the Department of Premier and Cabinet commissioned an independent review of the implementation of Child Wellbeing Units. The Child Wellbeing Unit Review report identified key achievements and made 17 recommendations to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Units into the future.

Family Referral Service

The Family Referral Service (FRS) assists children, young people, and families who do not meet the statutory threshold for child protection intervention, but would benefit from accessing specific services to address current problems, prevent escalation, and foster a protective and nurturing environment.

They link vulnerable children, young people in need of assistance, and their families, with the most appropriate available support services in their local areas.

Family Case Management

Family Case Management (FCM) was an integrated case management response to support families in frequent contact with a number of government agencies and non-government organisations (NGOs). The program operated in three regions: South-West Sydney, South-East NSW, and Western NSW.

Acute Services

Keep Them Safe resulted in a number of enhancements to the acute services sector. Further details of programs within the acute services category were available in the Keep Them Safe Annual Report 2010-11.

New Street Adolescent Service program

New Street Services provide therapeutic services for children and young people aged 10 to 17 years who have engaged in harmful sexual behaviours toward others. New Street Services provide an early intervention and prevention program by working with children and young people and their families and carers.

Keep Them Safe Whole-Family Teams

Keep Them Safe Whole-Family Teams were established in 2010 in Nowra, Lismore, Newcastle, and Gosford. The aim was to address the needs of whole families where carers have mental health and/or substance use problems and parenting difficulties.

They provided specialist comprehensive assessments; case management; and specialist group, family, and individual interventions over a six-month period. In addition, the teams would coordinate, link, and network with other support services to ensure that clients can be treated in a holistic manner, and can continue to receive support following intervention.

Sexualised behaviour program for children under 10

This service aims to strengthen therapeutic intervention for children under 10 years of age who display harmful sexualised behaviours. Based within the existing Kaleidoscope Sexualised Behaviour Program, the service provides individual treatment and community education, including to foster and kinship carers, in managing sexualised behaviour. The program was enhanced under Keep Them Safe through the funding of two positions: a therapeutic position and a project officer.

Bail Assistance Line

The Bail Assistance Line provides an after-hours serv​ice for police who are considering granting conditional bail to a young person who is in their custody but who cannot be released as they cannot meet their bail conditions.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is designed to empower families to actively participate in the decision-making process around their child’s future care.

There are four models of ADR that have been implemented across the NSW care jurisdiction:

  • A new model of Dispute Resolution Conference.
  • An external care and protection mediation pilot.
  • A Family Group Conferencing pilot.
  • Care Circles.

ADR continues to be incorporated into the NSW care and protection jurisdiction. Further details on ADR are available on the Courts and Tribunal Services NSW website.

Prevention and Early Intervention

Prevention and early intervention is based on the idea that intervening to stop a problem from occurring, or acting early to prevent an issue from getting worse offers better, more cost-effective social and economic outcomes for children, young people, and families.

Keep Them Safe implemented or enhanced the prevention and early intervention programs and initiatives detailed in this section.

Getting on Track in Time

Getting on Track in Time (Got It!) is a school-based mental health early intervention service being implemented by NSW Health Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services in partnership with the Department of Education.

Sustaining NSW Families

The Sustaining NSW Families program was established to support vulnerable families with young children at a number of locations across NSW. It is an evidence-based sustained home visiting program that commences in pregnancy and continues until the child's second birthday.

The program supports eligible families to establish positive, healthy relationships with their infants and promotes optimal social and emotional development that will benefit children and their families across the whole of their lives.


The key objective of SAFE START is to identify and support women and families with a range of social and emotional issues during pregnancy and following birth. The secondary aim of SAFE START is to focus on the mental health and psychosocial issues (including family violence and substance abuse problems) of fathers and families, and to address the relationship between mental health and the parenting role.

Brighter Futures

Brighter Futures is an early intervention program designed to build the resilience of vulnerable families with children aged up to nine years of age.

Supporting Aboriginal children and families

A particularly significant finding of the Special Commission of Inquiry into Child Protection Services in NSW was the over-representation of Aboriginal children and young people in the child protection and juvenile justice systems.

Keep Them Safe aimed to reduce this over-representation through a range of initiatives aimed at increasing support to Aboriginal children and their families, and by assessing the impacts of all actions in the plan on Aboriginal children and families.

Aboriginal Impact Statement

Aboriginal Impact Statements were completed to ensure that Aboriginal stakeholders were consulted in the development and implementation of Keep Them Safe projects and actions, and that the specific needs of Aboriginal people and communities were taken into account in developing and rolling out Keep Them Safe initiatives.

Learn more about the Aboriginal Impact Statement on the Department of Family and Community Services website.

Protecting Aboriginal Children Together

Protecting Aboriginal Children Together (PACT) is an initiative which aims to:

  • develop locally driven service models which empower and actively engage with the unique needs of Aboriginal families and their communities, with the aim of ensuring the safety and wellbeing of their children
  • actively encourage consultation between relevant non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal non-government organisations (NGOs) to form meaningful partnerships and enhance service capacity.

Care Circles

Care Circles are part of the NSW Government’s commitment to improving the wellbeing of Aboriginal families through better meeting their needs in the Children’s Court. Care Circles aim to encourage more culturally appropriate decision making and care plans for Aboriginal children and families.

Compared to the usual court process, the culturally comfortable and supportive environment of Care Circles makes care proceedings less daunting and distressing for the families involved.

Safe Families

Safe Families is an early intervention program involving a coordinated approach between government agencies and communities to work together to tackle child sexual assault in Aboriginal communities.

Safe Aboriginal Youth program

The Safe Aboriginal Youth (SAY) program identifies vulnerable Aboriginal youth who are unsupervised on the street at night. SAY patrols provide safe transport options to clients and link them to a safe place where they can access supervised activities and trained youth workers. The youth workers effectively engage SAY clients and link them with services relevant to their individual needs.

Aboriginal Intensive Family Support Services

The Aboriginal Intensive Family Based Services (IFBS) offers an intensive level of casework and a broad spectrum of support services to families in crisis, for a period of up to 12 months.

Out-of-home care (OOHC)

The Keep Them Safe: A shared approach to child wellbeing action plan recommended transferring the majority of responsibility for OOHC delivery to the non-government sector.

In addition, OOHC Coordinators were implemented in NSW Health and the Department of Education to provide health assessments and education support for children and young people in OOHC.