Child welfare comes first

baby Julian GrantA new educational framework will help to address the call from South Australia’s Child Protection Systems Royal Commission to focus on the needs of children first – rather than just those of a service.

The National Interdisciplinary Educational Framework provides the opportunity for health, welfare and educational professions to work together to protect children.

It will underpin the education of all professionals involved in multidisciplinary work of health, education and welfare for young children, building collaboration and laying a foundation for the delivery of effective, high-quality care, says Flinders University Child and Family Health Nursing Associate Professor Julian Grant.

“It offers a framework for all disciplines to prioritise a child-centred approach to health, welfare and care, where the voice of the child is paramount,” Associate Professor Grant says.

“This will build a sustainable and capable interdisciplinary early childhood workforce.”

The free online resources have been developed through extensive research and consultation with the community, industry and care providers.

The new framework is being rolled out as the State Government moves to act on the Royal Commission recommendations and to introduce legislation to overhaul the screening of adults looking to work with children and allow the sharing of data between multiple agencies – because “the right of a child to be safe trumps the right to privacy”.

Associate Professor Grant says the Royal Commissioner, Justice Margaret Nyland, called for an expansion of the professional base of the child protection workforce to ensure that all young children get the care they deserve.

Ensuring consistent high quality education underpinned by shared understandings of the needs of Australia’s children will address this gap into the future.

At present, it is not unusual to find a range of health, education and welfare professionals involved in child protection and related services who have no formal human services training.

“This month’s Royal Commission Report also cites a ‘yawning gap between policy requirements and day-to-day practice’,” Associate Professor Grant says.

“If the educational framework is implemented across universities and TAFE, there would be a shared focus of optimising childhood and safeguarding children across the disciplines.

“This new framework means that all professionals working with children will be able to operate with shared outcomes and standards for practice.”

Led by Flinders University, the national project team now rolling out the framework includes representative from early childhood education, health and social work.

The interdisciplinary framework has been developed as a foundation to enable greater curriculum content in child wellbeing, building on the work of UniSA Emeritus Professor Dorothy Scott, who audited child protection content in qualifying training for psychology, nursing, midwifery and social work.

Developed through an Australian Government Office for Learning and Teaching grant, the framework comprises an evidence-informed statement of Shared Outcomes for Children, an Interdisciplinary Map and a set of Universal Essential Elements for working with young children.

The National Interdisciplinary Educational Framework will be officially launched from 4-6pm at Flinders at 182 Victoria Square, Adelaide on 29 September 2016.

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