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, 2015-16 to 2019-20

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, 2015-16 to 2019-20

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, 21 KB) Excel (CSV, 5 KB) Excel (XLSX, 20 KB) Excel (CSV, 4 KB)
IA.2: Notifications, by whether investigation and assessment was commenced, Queensland Excel (XLSX, 22 KB) Excel (CSV, 5 KB) Excel (XLSX, 20 KB) Excel (CSV, 5 KB)
IA.3: Notifications with a commenced investigation and assessment, by whether the investigation and assessment commencement was within timeframe, Queensland Excel (XLSX, 22 KB) Excel (CSV, 5 KB) Excel (XLSX, 22 KB) Excel (CSV, 6 KB)
IA.4: Notifications with a substantiated or unsubstantiated outcome, by time taken to complete investigation and assessment, Queensland Excel (XLSX, 21 KB) Excel (CSV, 4 KB) Excel (XLSX, 19 KB) Excel (CSV, 4 KB)
IA.5: Notifications with a finalised investigation, by investigation and assessment outcome, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander status, Queensland Excel (XLSX, 23 KB) Excel (CSV, 8 KB) Excel (XLSX, 21 KB) Excel (CSV, 4 KB)
IA.6: Notifications requiring investigation, by investigation and assessment outcome and region, Queensland Excel (XLSX, 23 KB) Excel (CSV, 7 KB) Excel (XLSX, 21 KB) Excel (CSV, 5 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 with a review of the child protection history of the child and family. At this stage, the investigation and assessment is not considered to be commenced even though child safety officers are actively working on gathering initial information about the safety and wellbeing of the child.

Commencement is recorded when one of the following actions have been taken by the department.

24 hour response timeframe

  • 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 professionals or workers from other agencies. At this stage, the primary focus of child safety officers is on assessing the child’s immediate safety.

In exceptional circumstances where a child safety officer is not able to access and sight a child, other action may be taken such as a police officer or health professional can sight the child on the department's behalf.

5 day or 10 day responses times (business days)

  • 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 professionals or workers from other agencies. At this stage, the primary focus of child safety officers is on assessing the child’s immediate safety.
  • For unborn children, the pregnant woman is interviewed if she consents to the investigation and assessment for the unborn child

          OR

  • Information is sought and received from an external agency that informs the assessment about the child’s safety or the unborn child’s safety after birth.

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 100 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 26,474 notifications recorded by the department in 2019-20, 26,220 (99.0 per cent) were able to be commenced, with 254 (1.0 per cent) unable to be commenced.

Of the 26,220 notifications that were able to be commenced, 25,621 (97.7 per cent) had an investigation commenced. Of these 25,621 notifications, 48.9 per cent commenced within the policy timeframe (24hrs, 5 days or 10 days).

For notifications requiring a 24hr response, 100 per cent had an investigation commenced (the child was sighted), with 94.1 per cent of these commenced within the required 24 hr timeframe.

Of the 26,474 notifications recorded by the department in 2019-20, 24,184 had an investigation finalised in the reporting period. Of the 24,184 notifications with a finalised investigation:

  • 7,022 (29.0 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.
  • 15,948 (65.9 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.
  • 615 (2.5 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.
  • 599 (2.5 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 2,290 notifications recorded as not yet finalised, representing 8.6 per cent of all notifications recorded in 2019-20.

From 1 September 2019, the prescribed timeframe for completing an investigation and assessment changed from 60 calendar days to 100 calendar days. For the year ending 30 September 2019 onwards, data for this measure is a combination of investigation and assessments subject to both 60 days and 100 days completion timeframes. As a result, reporting of this measure will be one quarter behind other corporate data – for example, 30 June 2020 data will be provided with the release of 30 September 2020 data.

Of the 22,583 finalised investigations resulting in an outcome of substantiated or unsubstantiated for the year ending 31 March 2020, 64.7 per cent were finalised within the required 100 day timeframe.

A notification may not be finalised within the financial year it commenced and/or not finalised within the required 100 day timeframe for a number of valid reasons. As part of the child and family reforms, Child Safety Officers are working more intensively during investigations to work with families and de-escalate risk to children. Conversely, the family may actively avoid contact with the department during the investigation.