The department of child safety, youth and women is a Queensland government lead agency focusing on child safety and adoption services. The department of child safety provides statutory child protection services for young people and children. Child protection services aim to give the family the capacity to nurture and care for their children at home. Child Safety Officers use skills and knowledge to build relationships, complete assessment, implement change through intervention to support children and strengthen families.
Children and young people should be cared for, kept safe and protected to be able to reach their full potential.
Profession- Child Safety Officer
Child Safety Officers work with the families of vulnerable children to ensure they have the support they need to safely care for their children at home (Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women, Queensland 2020). Child safety officers work with families to ensure the safety of children who have been harmed or who are at risk. Child Safety Service Queensland has centres throughout Queensland, offering a range of alternative work environments from the tropical north to the outback expanses (Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women, Queensland 2020). Child safety offers a range of professional development career opportunities such as policy and practice development, staff management, mentoring and training. Working as a child safety officer is a very challenging career, but rewarding knowing you are implementing strategies to keep vulnerable children safe.
Roles and responsibilities of the position of a child safety officer
Child Safety Officers (CSO) role is to provide statutory protection services for children under 18 years old, including casework, case management and intervention when required. Assessments are completed following legislation and practice guidelines with peak bodies within the child safety service (Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women, Queensland 2020). Child safety officers empower families on how to care for their children through the child protection process safely. Child Safety Officers have the responsibility for understanding entities such as support for Indigenous children.
Child safety officers have the responsibility to investigating allegations of suspected child abuse and neglect, and determining appropriate interventions following legislation, policy and practice guidelines (Legal Aid Queensland 2020). The principle is that the safety, wellbeing and best interests of the child are paramount.
Employment context required qualifications, experience and skills to become a CSO
There are two pathways to becoming a Child Safety Officer in Queensland. Pathway 1- must hold a bachelor level qualification from an accredited Australian tertiary institution in social work, human services, social welfare, psychology or behavioural science (Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women People and Culture 2020). In late 2008 criminology and criminal justice bachelor degrees became included as a behavioural science (Cather 2020).
Pathway 2 – Other bachelor degrees that have completed a minimum of six subjects related to human services, psychology or behavioural science are acceptable. Study which includes assessment and intervention skills for work with families, individuals, groups, communities, organisations and other social systems are favoured. Applicants within pathway two are also expected to have either an additional qualification plus 12 months full-time relevant work experience or part-time equivalent (Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women People and Culture 2020).
Experience and skills beneficial to child safety would be to be able to engage with young people, children and families to facilitate assessments and guide them through change. Knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and issues relating to overrepresentation in the child protection system would be beneficial (Hutt & Clarke 2012). Knowledge of child development, human behaviour and interaction, cultural factors, family dynamics and interpersonal violence would be valuable for understanding the complexity of what child safety officers face throughout their careers.
Employment pathways within the child safety profession
Once you are employed as a child safety officer you must undertake an extensive professional development program. The recruitment team provides new university graduates training to enhance their professionalism and leadership skills (Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women People and Culture 2020). The 12-month training program is mandatory, designed to develop specific skills and knowledge to work in the field of child protection.
The 12-month program enables graduates to participate in work placement and mandatory professional development activities to become competent within the department (Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women People and Culture 2020). Career progression through training and personal development can lead to becoming a Senior Child Safety Officer (SCSO), Senior Team Leader and lastly a Senior Practitioner (Queensland Government Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women 2020). The 12-month development program is compulsory to develop the skills to work in child protection services.
Current strengths and skills
Even though I am young and have no experience in the child safety profession, I feel this profession is for me. I have spent many hours speaking to a family friend who is a child safety senior officer. My strengths noticed by my family friend was my maturity and open-minded opinions towards problems in society today. I have a friendly manner which children seem to like and young people seem to respect. I believe injustice and that improvement can be made in children’s lives through child protection services. I am open-minded and have many friends from different walks of life. I respect people’s choice of their religion they wish to follow, whom they want as their partner, and I am not racist. I am not scared of being in stressful situations. I am strong and fit and can stand up for myself when needed which within the field of child services could be helpful. I work well within multidisciplinary teams but also can work independently. I enjoy a challenge and have excellent communication skills which within the field of child safety is crucial for positive outcomes.
Required qualifications, experience, and skills
I am in my second year of a bachelor degree in Criminology and Justice completing courses in psychology, social science, human services and mental health. I am focusing my electives on building knowledge that will be beneficial in the child safety profession. Being able to liaison effectively, negotiate, communicate, resolve conflict, problem solve, be accountable, focused and responsible are skills required to become a child safety officer.
Areas for improvement
Child Safety Officers need to know about children. Over the next two years I will be studying Mental Health and Social Work, Youth Justice and Restorative Justice, Social Work and Human Services, Working with Victims and Offenders, Working with children youth and families and Introduction to Indigenous Australia. I want to develop further understanding in a range of subjects to give myself a broad spectrum of knowledge which could be beneficial to my future career. My improvement areas would be communication and verbal skills, I don’t like speaking in front of large groups. I am hoping to complete Professional Placement in 2021 within the field of child protection. Understanding more about risk factors associated with abuse and neglect of children and links to mental health and sociological reasoning can help me prepare for my career.
In concluding, to work as a competent child safety officer, development of a robust positive commitment is required to be able to work under challenging circumstances. Professional development to become a child safety officer requires dedication and the strong desire to make a difference in the lives of young people and children. With my bachelor degree and relevant elective subject knowledge, I hope to be a confident and knowledgeable employee. I will focus my improvement area towards verbal and written communication skills. I will continue to be an empathetic, responsible and trustworthy person who is reliable. I will dedicate myself to ongoing training and commitment to making a positive impact in the lives of children and young people.
- Cather, W 2020, Study.com, Is Criminology a behavioural science? viewed 15 March 2020, https://study.com/academy/answer/is-criminology-a-behavioral-science.html
- Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women People and Culture 2020, Child Safety Officer Recruitment Team, viewed 8 March 2020, https://www.csyw.qld.gov.au/about-us/careers
- Hutt, S & Clarke, 2012, “Improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Support in Out-of-Home Care,” Children Australia. Cambridge University Press, 37(2), pp. 76–79. doi: 10.1017/cha.2012.16.
- Legal Aid Queensland 2020, Child Safety’s role, viewed 12 March, http://www.legalaid.qld.gov.au/Find-legal-information/Relationships-and-children/Child-protection-overview/Child-protection-legal-information
- Queensland Government Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women 2020, Child protection careers, viewed 6 March 2020, https://www.csyw.qld.gov.au/about-us/careers/career-opportunities/child-protection-career