Working with children: Identifying and responding to vulnerable children – Advanced learning


Those working in healthcare are in a unique position to identify vulnerable children and young people and suspected child abuse and neglect. Many healthcare professionals are required to make a report when they reasonably suspect that a child has been the victim of abuse or neglect or if a child is at risk of harm.

For many children at risk, the only opportunity to identify and appropriately respond, is through their school or healthcare providers. For many Aboriginal children, this means that one of the only opportunities they have for an adult to act, is via their Aboriginal health service or school. When working in healthcare, there may be times where a community or family members raise a specific concern to which you are asked to respond.

Knowing how to respond appropriately is essential for the child, the family and wider community, and the health service you work for. It is essential that community members and patients can trust that their healthcare worker will respond appropriately when child abuse or neglect is suspected.

There are 4 modules on working with children and young people. This module ‘Working to promote a safe and healthy environment for children – Advanced learning’, is suitable for the following people:

  • All those registered as a health practitioner and those working directly with children
  • Managers
  • Program workers where the program has child participants
  • Those who plan and direct service delivery

The other modules are ‘Working with children: Identifying and responding to vulnerable children – core learning’; ‘Vulnerable young people and the age of consent’; and ‘Working with children: Mandatory reporting’.

We recommend that everyone complete either this module or the core learning module before progressing to the other two modules. This module does not specifically discuss age of consent laws and mandatory reporting requirements. Two other modules go into these topics in detail.

‘Child’ can mean anyone aged up to 18 years.

Throughout this module we refer to ‘child’ or ‘young person’ and both mean a person under the age of 18 years.

Learning Objectives

At the end of this module participants will be able to:

  • Understand the principles underpinning child protection.
  • Know the features of an environment that supports a child who is safe, healthy and able to reach their full potential as a person.
  • Understand the rights of all children and how healthcare workers support those rights.
  • Know what essential skills healthcare workers working with children must develop to identify vulnerable children.
  • Identify children who are vulnerable or at risk.
  • Appropriately assess children who are suspected of being at risk.
  • Respond appropriately to children who make disclosures of child abuse and neglect.
  • Respond appropriately when identifying a vulnerable a child or a child at risk.

Other Modules to Explore