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Belinda

Belinda Mawhinney

Year of Award: 2013 Award State: New South Wales Health And Medicine > General
Social Welfare > Children Care And Protection
To identify the key strategies required for health services to effectively work together in response to children and young people at "risk of harm" - USA, Canada, UK, Ireland
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Prompted by a significant child protection reform in New South Wales, this project was developed with a clear focus on exploring the role of health services in responding to child maltreatment. 'Keeping children safe: a Shared Approach to Child Wellbeing' captured key themes from the NSW Special Commission of Inquiry into Child Protection Services in NSW released in 2008.

The subsequent response, the Keep Them Safe Reform 2009-2014 has seen key agencies, such as Health, change the way services respond to families where there are child protection and wellbeing concerns. This report identifies key strategies that have been implemented in Canada, USA, the United Kingdom and Ireland which have relevance for application by health services in Australia. Specifically, this report is focused on improving health service provision to effectively work with families where there are child protection and wellbeing concerns.

My Fellowship included many highlights and themes for health organisations and practitioners to consider. Two specific highlights stand out for me: one is the opportunity to implement a clinical supervision or case consultation model developed specifically for the context of child maltreatment and promoting safeguarding of children in the Health sector. The other is the potential opportunity to explore working in partnership with universities focusing on the intersection between health service and child maltreatment.

The greatest lesson I took from this experience was the opportunity to learn and collaborate internationally is ripe with opportunities to share lessons learned and to collectively work together to improve outcomes for children and families. I hope to utilise my existing position to both share and apply knowledge to enhance service delivery. A key message for the health services working across Australia trying to manage complex families, there are similar services with similar struggles across the world. Working together at some solutions will potentially strengthen the child protection and wellbeing systems for vulnerable families. As part of the NSW Child Protection & Wellbeing Networks, I will pursue a range of opportunities to promote the recommendations of this Fellowship across Australia. I hope to share my recommendations to contribute to the enhancement for the role of health service delivery and inter-agency responses for families.

I am committed to disseminate my knowledge at international, national and state levels by presenting at conferences, professional networks and high level committees within health and across agencies. I will also continue to contribute to the "conversation" across Australia by submitting journal articles and exploring further research opportunities with leading research centres.

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