Report of the Special Commission of Inquiry into Child Protection Services in NSW - The Wood Report

The Report from The Special Commission Of Inquiry into Child Protection Services in NSW

On November 9, 2007, following the shocking deaths of two children, the NSW Government issued a commission for a major inquiry into the state's child protection system, led by retired Supreme Court Judge Justice James Wood.

Executive Summary and Recommendations

Terms of reference for the inquiry:

Specifically the review will examine, report on and make recommendations in relation to:

  1. The system for reporting of child abuse and neglect including, inter alia: mandatory reporting, reporting thresholds and feedback to reporters;
  2. Management of reports including, inter alia: the adequacy and efficiency of systems and processes for intake, assessment, prioritisation, investigation and decision-making;  
  3. Management of cases requiring ongoing work including, inter alia: referrals for services and monitoring and supervision of families; 
  4. Recording of essential information and capacity to collate and utilise data about the child protection system to target resources efficiently; 
  5. Professional capacity and professional supervision of the casework and allied staff;
  6. The adequacy of the current statutory framework for child protection including roles and responsibilities of mandatory reporters, DoCS, the courts and the oversight agencies; 
  7. The adequacy of arrangements for inter-agency cooperation in child protection cases;  
  8. The adequacy of arrangements for children in out of home care;  
  9. The adequacy of resources in the child protection system; and 
  10. Other matters as agreed by the Commissioner and the Minister.

The Commissioner will report by 30 June 2008.

Justice Wood requested and was granted an extension on the date for reporting on two separate occasions. The date for the report was extended until September 30, 2008, and then again until December 31, 2008.

On November 24, 2008, Justice Wood handed down the findings from his Special Commission of Inquiry into Child Protection Services in New South Wales in an extensive three-volume report containing 111 recommendations.

The Wood Report


NSW Ombudsman Special Reports on the Two Child Deaths

Child Protection: It's Time for Action - A Safe Childhood is Every Child's Right

ACWA's Campaign to Support the Reform

On 19 December, 2008, ACWA launched 'Child Protection: It's Time For ACTION - A safe childhood is every child's right'. This campaign was initiated by ACWA and other non-government organisations in the wake of the Wood Report, to ensure the NSW Government maintained its commitment to child protection reform.

ACWA welcomed the report handed down by retired Supreme Court Judge James Wood AO QC. The report is a blueprint for positive reform to a system deep in crisis.

The campaign called for the report to be implemented in its totality (with the exception of the recommendation for welfare quarantining) - as ‘a framework for change’, and asks that the Government adequately resource the recommendations, whilst taking into account priorities and the interrelations between the recommendations.

To achieve the objectives stated in the report, there needs to be a commitment that extends beyond the election cycle that will enable the implementation of long-term recommendations. And genuine partnership and consultation pathways between the Government and the Non-Government sector need to be fostered.

For the campaign, our members and the general public were encouraged to write to their local member supporting the recommendations contained in the Wood Report.

ACWA Position Papers

  1. Position Paper for the Child Protection Advisory Group Meeting (20 January 2009)
  2. Position Paper - Implementation of the Recommendations (February 2009) (February 2009)

ACWA Wood Forums

19 December 2008

Proceedings from ACWA Wood Report Forum at the Y-Hotel

28 January 2009

Proceedings from the ACWA Wood Report Forum at the Y-Hotel

Focus Group Discussion

20 February 2009

Southern NSW Forum held in Wagga Wagga

27 February 2009

Northern NSW Forum held in Lismore