Transforming the standards for professional practice

Australia’s child protection systems comprise a diverse range of professions working together to address the issues of child abuse and neglect in our community. Ensuring that workers have the training and knowledge required to effectively prevent and respond to child abuse and neglect is crucial. The Professionals Protecting Children series is an award-winning research project conducted by the Australian Centre for Child Protection to enhance the wellbeing of Australia’s most vulnerable children. The project aimed to assist a broad range of professions to prepare their graduates to prevent and respond to child abuse and neglect effectively.

The Centre worked with educational providers, accrediting agencies and key professional bodies to:

  • map how the prevention, identification and response to child abuse and neglect is addressed within tertiary education programs across a broad range of professions;
  • explore how professionals can be best prepared to work with vulnerable children and families; and to
  • identify elements of good practice, exemplary teaching and learning practices, and resource development opportunities for the promotion of effective practice.

National surveys of the child protection content in the training of teachers, social workers, psychologists, and nurses and midwives were undertaken and the results have been widely disseminated through four key reports:

  • Professionals Protecting Children: Child Protection and Teacher Education in Australia
  • Professionals Protecting Children: Child Protection and Social Work Education in Australia
  • Professionals Protecting Children: Child Protection and Nursing and Midwifery Education in Australia
  • Professionals Protecting Children: Child Protection and Psychology Education in Australia

Our researchers have presented their research findings at national professional roundtables and key international conferences, as well as publishing in leading industry journals, ensuring that the research engages the relevant audiences.

Impacts

As a result of this project, relevant content about child abuse and neglect prevention and responses has been incorporated into key professional education courses provided by Australian universities, potentially impacting on the professional training of thousands of tertiary students.

The Centre co-funded the development of Child Wellbeing and Protection Curriculum content for the Australian Social Work Education and Accreditation Standards and participated in the Project Reference Group.
A series of DVD documentaries and curriculum resources to demonstrate how nurses and midwives can lower key psycho-social risk factors associated with child abuse and neglect has been developed.

The Centre funded and collaborated with the University of Technology Sydney in the development of Child Protection and Nursing and Midwifery Education Curriculum Standards 2010.

“In overcrowded professional education programs, many stakeholders press for their concerns to be included; it is sometimes too easy to dismiss such claims because of the wide range of competing claims. The area of child protection, however, is not one of these…This report on a benchmark study of coverage of child protection issues in teacher education programs in Australia represents a serious challenge to 'business as usual'”
Prof Marie Brennan, formerly Secretary/Treasurer, Australian Council of Deans of Education and Professor, School of Education, University of South Australia.
Excerpt from the Foreword to the Professionals Protecting Children: Child Protection and Teacher Education in Australia

With the support of: Ian Potter Foundation, Australian Psychology Society, Australian Association of Social Workers, Council of Deans of Nursing and Midwifery Australia and New Zealand, Australian Council of Deans of Education and Australian Council of Heads of Schools of Social Work.