Oversight of the Child Protection System NSW


The Audit Office of NSW, a statutory authority reporting to the Auditor-General, has recently released an Oversight of the Child Protection System, assessing the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) in planning, designing and overseeing the NSW child protection system. The audit used ‘follow the dollar’ powers to assess the performance of five non-government organisations (NGOs) contracted to provide child protection services.


The child protection system aims to protect children and young people under 18 years old from risk of abuse, neglect and harm. The Care Act requires that agencies consider the ‘safety, welfare and wellbeing of the child’ as ‘paramount’ in any decision affecting the child.
The Oversight report found the NSW child protection system to be inefficient, ineffective and unsustainable. Over 14,000 NSW children were in out of home care in June 2023. $1.9b was spent on home care services during that year, with $0.4 billion spent on family services in the same year. Most out of home care is delivered by private, third-party providers, many of whom have no specific child protection qualifications. Some children are being placed in costly and inappropriate accommodation such as hotels, motels and apartments. Fewer children were returned to their parents over the last five years and many children experience trauma before, during, and after being removed from their families.


Among the findings of the Oversight report is a reorientation of the child protection system to focus on early intervention support, rather than one that is ‘crisis driven’. It also emphasises the need for the collation of data to provide evidence of needs in various areas including establishing system-level arrangements with health and other government agencies. Home visits of children presumed to be at risk of significant harm are essential and the results available to agencies. The contribution of data requirements to national research and reporting on child protection activity and outcomes should continue.


This Oversight report examines the way in which DJC makes significant child protection decisions and makes recommendations about improvements.

When & Where

The Oversight report provides research, evidence and ideas for schools about the child protection system, especially relevant in the report about the focus needed on early intervention and children who experience trauma. Within the report is material to support engagement with Living Ripples NSW. Oversight of the child protection system



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