Interagency Management of Children Under 14 Who are Diagnosed With a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI)

Applicable to:

Description: This protocol has been updated to ensure consistency with Mandatory Reporting of Sexual Abuse in Children under 18 years of age and will continue to operate independently of the Mandatory Reporting of Sexual Abuse in Children under 18 years (OD 0185/09).

Interagency Management of Children Under 14 Who are Diagnosed With a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI)

BACKGROUND

In response to recommendation 187 of the Gordon Inquiry, Operational Guidelines for Interagency Management of Children Under 14 who are Diagnosed with a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI), and Children aged 14 and up to 16 Diagnosed with an STI Where there is Suspicion of Sexual Abuse (from now on referred to as the ‘Operational Directive’), were developed in 2004 between the Department for Child Protection (DCP), the Department of Health, Communicable Diseases Control Directorate (CDCD) and the Western Australian Police (WA Police).

This Operational Directive has been updated to ensure consistency with Mandatory Reporting of Sexual Abuse in Children Under 18 Years (OD 0185/09) and will continue to operate independently of the Mandatory Reporting of Sexual Abuse in Children Under 18 Years (OD 0185/09).

In all cases where a doctor, midwife or nurse forms a reasonable belief that sexual abuse has occurred, or is occurring, in a person under 18 years, a Mandatory Report must be made, regardless of STI status (for further information see OD 0185/09 Mandatory reporting of sexual abuse of children under 18 years).

STI Parallel Reporting

This Operational Directive involves parallel reporting of a confirmed STI in a child under 14 years. First, from CDCD to Central Office DCP and WA Police. Second, to avoid any potential for delayed reporting that might place a child at ongoing and serious risk, through independent referral by local health staff to local DCP on laboratory confirmation or on clinical diagnosis; DCP then reports to WA Police. 

This Operational Directive includes:

  • an explanation of the processes and responsibilities for local referral and reporting;
  • a sample Area Health Service Local Protocol to be tailored in each Health Region with relevant local contact details;
  • forms for initial reporting to CDCD and three-month follow-up;
  • flow charts for reporting; and
  • contacts for DCP and WA Police.

Local Referral Processes

  • The diagnosing practitioner to contact the DCP Office responsible for the suburb, town or locality where the child is residing.  DCP policy is that case management and service delivery, where possible, should be located where the child/significant parent/ family reside.  A list of localities for metropolitan and country areas and the corresponding DCP Office has been provided to CDCD and distributed to population health units.  Contact numbers for local DCP offices are attached to this Operational Directive.
  • The DOH and WA Police will nominate a key officer in each region who is responsible for ensuring local referral is completed.  For consistency, this should be the public health nurse based in the population health unit for DOH; and the Sergeant who is responsible for following up child sexual abuse at the regional level for WA Police.
  • Whenever possible, officers from DCP and WA Police will either meet face-to-face or have a telephone conference with the diagnosing practitioner, prior to action being taken.

KEY PRINCIPLES

  • Contact between the three agencies at the local level prior to action being taken by DCP and WA Police is essential to a coordinated response.
  • Building and maintaining relationships across agencies is the foundation of the success of this Operational Directive.  It will require a commitment by individuals to ongoing communication and to addressing issues as they arise.  Established processes will enable the flow of information but the commitment to maintaining lines of communication will ensure effective responses. 
  • Clear delineation of roles and lines of communication are essential.

SYSTEMS TO MONITOR EFFECTIVENESS AND COMPLIANCE WITH THE OPERATIONAL DIRECTIVE

  • A single, consistent system to code and track notifications will be maintained by all three agencies.
  • Each agency will establish a process for regular monitoring of this Operational Directive as follows:
    • DOH: on a six monthly basis, the number of notifications received and on-reported to WA Police and DCP from CDCD will be checked against the numbers reported by health care providers to local DCP and from DCP to WA Police.  The analysis will be sent to regional population health units.  Confirmation of treatment, contact tracing and education provided to each child will be collected and used for case monitoring.
    • WA Police: on a six monthly basis, the number of notifications received by WA Police from CDCD centrally and at the regional level will be compared; the numbers of cases followed up by WA Police will be recorded; and the outcome of each case will be recorded for case monitoring. 

TRAINING AND REGULAR SUPPORT

  • Each agency is responsible for ensuring that workers receive appropriate and timely orientation, regular updates and necessary training to implement this Operational Directive.
  • In addition, all agencies are to provide regular opportunities for interagency meetings, updates and information sharing.

Dr David Russell-Weisz
ACTING DIRECTOR GENERAL
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH WA

Date of effect: 06 August 2010 to 05 July 2015

Policy Framework