Female genital mutilation is a crime under the Crimes Act 1958 in Victoria. It is crucial child protection practitioners are aware of this issue and know how to appropriately respond.
See female genital mutilation - advice for further important information on this topic, which will assist practitioners in their knowledge of female genital mutilation when completing the tasks in this procedure.
Case practitioner tasks
- All reports received relating to a child allegedly being subject to female genital mutilation, or at risk of female genital mutilation, must be classified as a protection intervention report unless there is compelling evidence of safety for the child. See Receiving, registering and classifying a report.
- Consult an area operations manager/director, child protection or their delegate for case direction and if you are considering closing the case without investigation. Document this discussion and decision on CRIS.
- Report the matter to Victoria Police.
- Consider whether a referral needs to be made to an appropriate community organisation, particularly a health provider.
- Select female genital mutilation as an area of concern in CRIS, under the appropriate harm type depending on information received in the report.
Investigation and response
- Contact Victoria Police and establish if there will be a joint investigation to respond to the report given the criminal nature of the offence. See protocol – Victoria Police.
- Undertake the first visit guided by the investigation plan completed, see Investigation plan checklist (doc, 70 KB) .
It is expected that reports of female genital mutilation will be investigated in the same manner as other reports, such as interviewing the child and completing a risk assessment.
- Consider the information gathered from the investigation and assess whether the child is safe to remain at home, or if an out-of-home care placement is required.
Families are typically the perpetrators of female genital mutilation and therefore may not be forthcoming with information regarding the alleged protective concerns. An assessment, informed by the child’s account, must take place to determine whether the child is safe to remain at home. When considering a kinship placement, the carer’s attitude to female genital mutilation requires careful consideration.
- If the concern is not substantiated but suspicion remains, be very clear with the family that female genital mutilation is illegal and explain the potential consequences should this occur (use an interpreter as required, see use of an interpreter for further information).
- Contact school and other professionals involved with the family to alert them to the protective concern and request they reinforce the message to the family where appropriate.
- If the protective concerns are substantiated, proceed with the case as with other reports, See substantiation and protective intervention guidance.
- Contact appropriate health providers to seek expert advice on this topic and to inform the development of a case plan including significant decisions such as how to keep a child safe at home, contact arrangements if the child is in out-of-home care, and any health requirements of the child if the female genital mutilation has already occurred. The Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne has a dedicated clinic for this issue and could provide information and advice.
- Consult with an area operations manager or director, child protection or their delegate at all key decision making points, particularly at investigation planning, issuing of protection application, placement in out-of-home care, reunification to parent and case closure.
- Consult with the sexual exploitation practice leader if sexual exploitation is identified as a risk factor.
- Consult with family violence specialist advisor if family violence is identified as a risk factor.
- Consult the forced marriage advice and procedure if forced marriage is identified as a risk factor.
- Provide ongoing supervision and consultation.
- Approve significant decisions affecting the conduct of the investigation.
- Assist in the development of an investigation plan.
- Support the practitioner to consult with a principal practitioner if required.
- Support the practitioner to consult with a sexual exploitation practice leader if concerns exist regarding sexual exploitation.
- Support the practitioner to consult with a family violence specialist advisor if concerns exist regarding family violence.
Team manager tasks
- Endorse key decisions including:
- applications to the Children’s Court, and
- placement decisions, should the child be required to enter out-of-home care.
- Should further clarification be required that an area operations manager/director, child protection or their delegate are unable to address, seek consultation with the area principal practitioner.
- If case complexity and issues arise that require consultation with the statewide principal practitioner, contact the office of professional practice, after discussion with the area principal practitioner.
- Confirm all consultations are recorded in CRIS.
Area operations manager/director, child protection or their delegate tasks
- Consult with practitioners on all key decision making points where a report has been received on forced marriage, or protective concerns regarding forced marriage have become evident during the course of a child protection investigation.
- Verify all consultations are recorded in CRIS.
Divisional or statewide principal practitioner tasks
- Consult with practitioners where a report has been received on forced marriage, or protective concerns regarding forced marriage have become evident during the course of a child protection investigation as requested