25 September 2023

Referral audit finds gaps in Service

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A performance audit of the processes for referring vulnerable children for support has found a ‘sizeable proportion’ were not receiving a first home visit from the Maternal and Child Health service.

In his report, Referral Processes for the Support of Vulnerable Children, Auditor-General, Michael Harris also found a poor take-up of free health and development checks offered by the service for children up to the age of four.

“While this does not mean that mothers and children are not receiving appropriate health care, this represents a missed opportunity for ACT Government Agencies to engage with these children and their families,” Mr Harris said.

He said his audit found that once a universal family support service such as the Maternal and Child Health Service, the Child and Family Centres or the Child Development Service, engaged with a child or their family there was evidence of a range of services and supports put in place for the child and the family.

Mr Harris said referral processes from the early family support services could be strengthened by better, more comprehensive administrative and procedural guidance for staff and practitioners.

He said it was particularly important to have effective processes in place to identify children who were vulnerable and to enable appropriate support to be provided.

“This audit considered universal early family support services provided by the Community Services Directorate and Canberra Health Services,” Mr Harris said.

The Auditor-General’s 117-page report can be accessed at this PS News link and the audit team was Brett Stanton, Elizabeth Cusack, Hayley Tonkin and John McWilliam with support from Rachel Gilbertson and David Kelly.

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