Rosemaria manages Child Protection services for the Northern NSW Local Health District, and is a part-time PhD student with the Australian Centre for Child Protection. Rosemaria’s research examines the role of the unborn child high risk birth alert in connecting at-risk pregnant women to health and social care.
Internationally it is well-recognised that sharing information about children at risk of harm can save lives. The Child-At-Risk (CAR) electronic medical record alert system implemented by Northern NSW Local Health District in 2015 enables clinicians to see that their patient or client (child or at-risk pregnant woman) has been identified as having wellbeing concerns. This alert system then prompts clinicians to ensure: (a) the patient/family has been referred to services relevant to their needs (b) the clinician has considered whether the health service has information about the family that should be shared with other prescribed bodies under Chapter 16A of the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act, 1998 and (c) that missed appointments by the patient/family are assertively followed up. This might include relaxing strict ‘missed appointment’ rules where, once a number of missed appointments are reached, the patient is no longer followed up. The CAR Alert information sharing system has produced excellent clinical outcomes, particularly for at-risk infants in the first 1000 days of their life. Health practitioners report that the CAR alert system has allowed them to assess children through a child wellbeing lens rather than only focussing on the presenting medical issue. Interagency child protection partners have described cases where they were able to reach families quicker to offer support due to the improved communication with health services regarding families experiencing vulnerability.