Working with vulnerable children: Identifying and responding – Core learning


Working in healthcare requires an understanding of how services are provided to vulnerable people of all ages and backgrounds. Everyone needs to be mindful that any child or young person accessing health services may be vulnerable or at risk of harm.

Everyone working in healthcare, regardless of their role, needs to understand how to identify vulnerable children and young people and respond appropriately. It is part of the duty of care of every individual working in a healthcare service.

Once a person is identified as being vulnerable or at risk of harm, clinicians, counsellors, social workers and others with specific responsibilities need to have a thorough knowledge of assessing and appropriately acting when a vulnerable person is identified.

For everyone else in the health service, once a vulnerable person is identified, you need to know how to respond – who do you tell about your concerns? This module is for you.

It provides details of how to identify vulnerable children and what the appropriate response is. It provides case examples that will assist you in learning the skills required to help protect children and young people.

Throughout this module we refer to ‘healthcare workers’. When we use this term we are referring to anyone who works in a healthcare service.

If we use the term ‘practitioner’, ‘healthcare professional’ or ‘clinician’ we are referring to someone with a qualification in providing care such as Aboriginal health practitioners, doctors, nurses, social workers, psychologists or counsellors.

‘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 of child protection.
  • Know the features of a safe and healthy environment for children.
  • 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.
  • Respond appropriately when identifying a vulnerable a child or a child at risk.

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