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Child and Adolescent Health Service

Services A – Z


Princess Margaret Hospital

Child Protection Unit (CPU)

A free, specialist, hospital based service for children and
their families where
abuse or neglect is a concern.

Reference to External Standards, Legislation and Policy

Information for Referrers and Parents

What is Child Abuse

Definition: Child abuse and neglect means the harm, or likely harm, experienced by a child as a result of the actions, or inactions, of an adult who has a care responsibility for the child- WA Department of Health: Guidelines for Protecting Children 2009.

Physical abuse is when a child is significantly physically harmed or injured as a result of severe and/or persistent actions or inactions by another person.

Emotional abuse/Psychological abuse is the sustained, repetitive, inappropriate, ill treatment of a child or young person through behaviours including threatening, isolating, discrediting, belittling, teasing, humiliating, bullying, confusing, ignoring and other inappropriate behaviour. This abusive style of parenting damages a child’s intellectual faculties and processes, including intelligence, memory, recognition, perception, attention, imagination and moral development.

Sexual abuse is when a child has been exposed or subjected to sexual behaviours that are exploitative and/or inappropriate to his/her age and developmental level.

Neglect is the intentional or unintentional failure of the caregiver to provide a child with adequate food or shelter, effective medical, therapeutic or remedial treatment and/or care, nurturance or supervision to a severe and/or persistent extent.

Fabricated/Induced Illness is the deliberate production or fabrication of physical or psychological symptoms in a child by a parent or carer.

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Role of the Child Protection Unit

CPU carries out assessments of children when there is a concern that they have, or may have, suffered from abuse.

CPU has an important role in ensuring that those children are listened to and helped. The Child Protection Unit believes children have the right to protection from abuse and that those children and their families have the right to quality services.

The Child Protection Unit is devoted to ensuring that all children are adequately protected whilst in Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) and upon discharge from PMH. CPU is also available for consultation on child protection matters in the community.

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Who Can be Referred to CPU

The PMH Child Protection Unit offers a free service to children up to 16 years of age, and their families, where there is a concern of abuse or neglect.

This includes the following:

  • Children who have injuries or have had previous injuries that may be inflicted injury e.g. fractures, bruises, lacerations, burns
  • Children with non-organic failure to thrive
  • Children where there is a concern of sexual abuse, neglect and induced/fabricated illness
  • Children where there has been a previous unexplained infant death in the family
  • Children who are believed to be at risk due to the mental or physical ill health of the parents
  • Children who are believed to be at risk due to domestic violence, alcohol abuse or drug use

The Child Protection Unit not only takes referrals from within PMH, but also accepts referrals from the wider public, including parents, community members and professionals.

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What Services Does the PMH Child Protection Unit Offer

CPU provides medical, forensic, social work and therapeutic services, along with training and education of other professionals working with children. The Child Protection Unit is staffed by paediatricians, senior social workers and therapists.

Medical Service

  • Medical examination and opinion
  • Diagnosis and treatment of injuries and infections
  • Medical investigations, including blood tests and imaging
  • Medical reports

Forensic Medical Service

  • A forensic medical examination and opinion
  • The doctor may complete forensic medical investigations
  • The doctor may compile a medical report for legal proceedings

Social Work Service

  • An assessment regarding the child’s current and ongoing safety
  • A psycho-social assessment
  • Crisis support and assistance for the child and their family
  • Referral to therapeutic services

Therapy Service

  • Offers a range of therapy services to children, adolescents and their families where abuse has occurred
  • Therapy services include individual, group and family therapy

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How to Refer a Child

The CPU Duty Social Worker is available to discuss your concerns each week day from 8.30am until 5pm. All referrals should be made directly to the Child Protection Unit on 9340 8646. If appropriate, the Duty Social Worker will arrange a clinic appointment for the child concerned.

It is recommended that referring agencies do not send the family directly to CPU without discussion with the Duty Social Worker, as appointments are not always available.  It is important for someone to accompany the child and parent to the clinic who knows details of the concerns.

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After Hours Referrals

Sexual Abuse/Assault
After hours social work services are available from 5.00pm until 8.00am the next day, Monday to Friday and all hours on Saturday, Sunday and public holidays. After hours medical consultation is available (hours as stated above). Both after hours services are contactable through the PMH switchboard on 9340 8222.

Inflicted Injury
After hours social work services are available as stated above. After hours medical services are managed through the Emergency Department at Princess Margaret Hospital.

Welfare concerns
If you have concerns for a child’s safety or welfare after hours, please contact Crisis Care (A/H, DCP) on 9223 1111 or the toll free number on 1800 199 088.

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Sharing of Information

Information about a child’s involvement with CPU is confidential, except in cases where there is current or ongoing risk to a child. On these occasions, referrals are made to other agencies that help keep children and families safe.  The courts can access Child Protection Unit records by way of a subpoena.

Parents who wish to have access to information will have to apply for this via the Freedom of Information Officer at PMH. In general, CPU information will only be released if it is believed to be in the best interest of the child.

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Mandatory Reporting

As of January the 1st 2009, it is a legal requirement in Western Australia for doctors, nurses, midwives, teachers and police officers to report all reasonable beliefs of child sexual abuse to the Department for Child Protection.

Mandatory Report forms and further information regarding mandatory reporting can be accessed at www.mandatoryreporting.dcp.wa.gov.au.

Send the report to the DCP Mandatory Reporting Service mrs@dcp.wa.gov.au or fax 1800 610 614.

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Where is the Child Protection Unit Located?

The Child Protection Unit (CPU) is located at PMH on the ground floor of the Roberts Road entrance, Subiaco. Access is via the Emergency Department entrance.

Our postal address is:

PMH Child Protection Unit
GPO Box D184
(08) 9340 8646 Ph
(08) 9340 8822 Fax

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Reference to External Standards, Legislation and Policy


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