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General practice strengthening health assessment pathways for children in out-of-home care

April 28, 2023

Over 12,000 children in Queensland have been placed under the protection of a Child Protection Order. According to Children’s Health Queensland (CHQ), nine out of ten children and young people in out-of-home care (OOHC) have unmet health needs.

Darling Downs and West Moreton PHN works in partnership with local stakeholders to improve access to primary health care for this vulnerable group.

A new Australian Child Maltreatment Study, released earlier this month, revealed the scale of the issue across the nation. It found more than two-thirds of Australians experienced maltreatment in childhood. Most victims were exposed to two or more of the five child maltreatment types, which include physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, as well as neglect and exposure to domestic violence.

This serves as a timely reminder of the importance of completing health and development assessments and early intervention plans for this vulnerable demographic of children and young people in OOHC.

The following resources can be utilised by GPs and practice managers:

  • Health Assessment Templates
  • Info Booklet – Children and Young People in OOHC
  • 1-Page General Practice Guide – Children and Young People in OOHC
  • 1-Page Aboriginal Community Controlled Medical Services – Children and Young People in OOHC
  • PIP QI Toolkit.

If you’re a GP, click here for helpful resources that will enable you to make every contact count with children and young people in OOHC.

How can you help the child/young person?

  1. Ask your receptionist to flag in your practice software that the child/ young person is in out of home care to ensure recalls and health assessments are appropriate for their needs.
  2. Use a child/young person-centred approach.
  3. Ask the carer/young person how many placements the child has had since entering care.
  4. Conduct an age-appropriate health and development assessment and develop a management plan that is shared with Child Safety and uploaded to My Health Record.
  5. Ensure recall process includes carer, Child Safety and/or child/young person, and carer/guardian.

Where can you go to better understand the process?

Contact your local Darling Downs and West Moreton PHN General Practice Liaison Officer (GPLO) or Primary Care Liaison Officer (PCLO) for further information or visit your HealthPathways portal for referral documentation, Child Safety guides for health professionals and decision making. Contact your Medical Defence Organisation if you have any medico-legal concerns around consent for any visit.