The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is responsible for protecting Victoria’s children and young people from abuse and neglect. DHHS’s child protection practitioners (CPP) receive, assess, and investigate reports of suspected child abuse and neglect—and where necessary, provide protective services to children.
Like police, emergency services and youth justice, child protection is ‘frontline’ work that is highly complex and requires specialist skills—and frontline workers are considered to be at particular risk of developing mental health issues.
DHHS has a duty of care to CPPs under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act) and must provide, so far as is reasonably practicable, a safe work environment that is without risks to employees’ health, including psychological health.
This audit examines whether Victoria’s CPPs maintain good mental health and wellbeing. We looked at whether:
- DHHS promotes mental health and works to prevent mental illness in CPPs
- potential and existing mental health risks are identified and appropriately managed
- WorkSafe Victoria is monitoring and enforcing compliance with parts of the OHS Act relevant to mental health.
We made seven recommendations.