Minister for Human Services
Protecting Our Most Vulnerable Tasmanians
11 June, 2015

Our youngest Tasmanians at risk of harm will be better protected with the Hodgman Liberal Government’s development of a Vulnerable Babies and Infant Strategy.

Babies under 12 months are more likely to be the subject of a child protection report than older children, which is why we committed during the election to do more to identify those at risk early and provide consistent referral and support pathways.

In 2013-14, there were 861 notifications to Child Protection of babies under 12 months, and an additional 350 unborn baby alerts.

These figures are very sad, and they demand an early intervention approach.

The Vulnerable Infants and Babies Working Party was established last year to develop a collaborative service model with ante-natal services.

The strategy is aimed at delivering consistent policies and guidelines for use across child health, community, paediatric and obstetric services.

Clear mandatory notification criteria and referral pathways to other services, like mental health, drug and alcohol, and lactation services, as well as to family support services, are being developed. A Statewide risk screening tool will also be developed, together with educational resources and research alliances.

The professionalism of the working group of midwifery, medical, nursing and social work staff from across a number of Government services is to be applauded, and demonstrates what can be achieved by joining up services and working together.

The Government’s aim is to ensure vulnerable babies and infants are identified early, and after birth that their parents and extended family members receive the support they need to be the best parents they can be.

We look forward to the finalisation of the Vulnerable Babies and Infant Strategy in the coming weeks, and to the implementation of this important work soon after.