Children protection and care policies and programs across the world vary extensively especially in regard to neglect and abuse. In Australia for instance, different states have their own legislations regarding children protection. However, National Framework for Creating Child Safe Environments applies to all states. This particular framework provides the different roles of organizations and community service providers in protecting, supporting and caring for children under their care. The South Australia legislation that is widely used as a reference point for creating child rights advocacy programs is the Children’s Protection Act of 1993 (Delfabbro et al, 2010). It works hand in hand with the child safe program framework in informing decision making around child protection and care. Registered Nurses who play a crucial role in child healthcare are among the officers with mandatory responsibility to ensure safety of children under their care. The following discussion highlights the different roles of a registered nurse in ensuring the safety of children in line with National Framework for Creating Child Safe Environments, and the Children’s Protection Act 1993.
Child Safe Environments
Different Australian restrictions have endorsed the National Framework for Creating Child Safe Environments and therefore, all organizations in different states have the responsibility to morally and legally ensure the safety of children under their care. Organizations that provide community services have further obligations that are more specific since they have more children under their care who are vulnerable (Delfabbro et al, 2010). The principles of child save environments emphasize that children have rights to be equally protected from both abuse and neglect. Individuals and organizations concerned with child care must enable them; achieve their full potential; take part in art and culture; access equal opportunities including recreation; receive care, protection and support from everyone. The principles of the child safe environment also call upon institutions to pass the responsibility of child protection and care to their employees and partners. Registered Nurses and the health facilities they work for across Australia therefore have the responsibility, to care, protect and support children in order to enable a child safe environment.
The Role of a Registered Nurse in Keeping Children Safe-Medical Consent & Child Safe Environment
The first role of a registered nurse is in regard to keeping children safe and ensuring a child safe environment is that she/he is mandated to report and/or notify the Department for Child Protection on any incidents of child neglect and abuse. The registered nurses just like the pharmacists, dentists, police officers, medical practitioners and even community corrections officers are known as mandated notifiers under the Children’s Protection Act 1993. This group therefore have a legal obligation to report child neglect and abuse cases in the course of their professional practice; through the Child Abuse Report Line failure (Delfabbro et al, 2010). Registered and enrolled nurses therefore face a legal penalty if they do not comply with this particular provision. According to the legislation, a registered therefore must however ensure that the abuse and neglect allegations are credible. The criteria to validate that suspected neglect and/or abuse merits reporting is includes where: a child informs the RN that they have been abused; when the RN observes injuries and child behaviour indicates possibilities of neglect and abuse and further; where a child tells the RN that they very well know a person who has undergone abuse including themselves (Birks et al, 2016). When a RN is informed by an individual in a position to give reliable information regarding any relative, friend, sibling, and even a neighbour to at-risk children, they are also supposed to consider the information credible for reporting. This information is necessary for instituting corrective measures to ensure safe child environment and children’s safety; which are aspects of their rights.
The second role of a Registered nurse as directed in the Section 11(5) of the Chid Protection Act of 1993 is that they have a duty of care apart from just making notifications. They are therefore mandated to take further relevant steps that can assist any child under the risk of neglect and abuse including ensuring their safety. The Children’s Protection Act gives power to the head of an authorized health organization to allow registered and enrolled nurses to remove any child from danger. Under this arrangement, if a registered nurse has a reasonable ground to believe that any given child is in danger, they can remove them from situation and therefore protect them from any further harm (Goddard, 2010). In this regard, under the authority of the Chief Executive of a health facility where the Registered Nurse works, the nurse can remove from given premises or place by use of force. This includes breaking into these premises with reasonable grounds and necessary for the purpose.
In regard to consent for medical operations a registered nurse in Australia are required to seek an official agreement from parents and/or guardians to children under the age of 16 years (Nathanson et al, 2016). Even so, the nurse must ensure that the medical procedures are safe and in the chill’s best interest. In some states a nurse is justified to seek a child’s consent in case the later, has sufficiently understood the consequences of the nursing procedures and are also intelligent enough to understand fully and agree on nursing care proposals (Birks et al, 2016). In South Australia particularly, a nurse can rely on a child’s consent if she/he is satisfied enough that the given child understands the consequences, risks and nature of the treatment. The South Australian statute on medical consent also insists that the opinion of the nurse which indicates that the child has given a medical consent should be supported particularly by w written opinion a second medical practitioner that also examined the given child (Delfabbro et al, 2010). However, the nurse should not accept both the child’s and parents’ consent especially where the particular treatment involves invasive and/or irreversible major surgery such as gender realignment and/or sterilization. In this case, nurses should protect the safety the child by reporting any of such operations carried out without a court order and the parents’ consent (Birks et al, 2016). Further, nurses should not allow children to be used or take part in medical experiments and/or research without parental or guardian’s consent even in circumstances where the research does not contradict a child’s own best interests.
In conclusion this discussion outlines the major roles of a registered nurse in ensuring safety of children in Australia. These roles are enshrined in the National Framework for Child Safe Environment and the Children Protection Act of 1993. They include notification of child abuse and neglect, removing children from danger and providing healthcare in line with the informed consent considerations. The discussion also highlights the different aspects of the National Framework for Child Safe Environment including some of the principles that organizations are called upon to comply with. Different institutions in Australia should similarly take up an active role in protecting, caring and supporting children
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Child Safe Environments Principles of Good Practice (July 2016).
The Children’s Protection Act 1993(SA).
Delfabbro, P., Hirte, C., Wilson, R., & Rogers, N. (2010). Longitudinal trends in child protection statistics in South Australia: A study of unit record data. Children Australia, 35(03), 4-10.
Goddard, C. (2010). The state of Victoria’s child protection. Children Australia, 35(01), 4-6.
South Australia Department for Education and Child Development.
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Nathanson, D., Woolfenden, S., & Zwi, K. (2016). Is there a role for paediatric Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners in the management of child sexual assault in Australia?. Child Abuse & Neglect, 59, 13-25.
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