Follow this procedure when discussing and recording a client’s gender.
Document ID 1619, version 1, 20 September 2022
Gender diverse clients are a small yet significantly at-risk cohort in Child Protection. An understanding of gender diversity and a commitment to gender inclusive practice will benefit children and young people who identify as gender diverse or questioning.
Recognition and recording of a child’s gender is one way gender diverse children and young people in Child Protection can be supported.
Being able to discuss, recognise and record gender is important in recognising and respecting gender diversity of Child Protection clients and is in line with Victorian government policy and practice. Not all gender diverse clients need or will seek to have their gender recorded on CRIS. For those who do, thoughtful discussion and appropriate recording enables:
- the child or young person’s voice and identity to be promoted
- opportunities to connect the child to appropriate and specific services where required
- opportunities to connect the child’s family to appropriate and specific services where required
A discussion with Child Protection regarding gender diversity and identity may be difficult for some children, young people and their families; and sometimes families of gender diverse children may not know about their gender identity. Therefore, discussions about gender should occur with the child’s permission, and professional judgement should be used about when, how and to whom questions are asked about a child or young person’s gender.
Decisions to record the gender identity of gender diverse children and young people should be determined by:
- the significance of the information in risk assessment, engagement and promoting the voice of the child
- whether the child agrees or requests their gender to be recorded
- whether it is in accordance with practice advice and best interest principles.
Gender identity should be obtained directly from the child or young person. If this is not possible or appropriate, the gender section of CRIS can be left blank.
This policy applies to divisional Child Protection practitioners including outposted workers, the After Hours Child Protection Emergency Service (AHCPES) and the Streetworks Outreach Service (SOS).
See Gender identity and gender diverse clients - advice for further information on gender diverse clients
Case Practitioner tasks
- Assess whether information provided during intake about the child or young person’s gender identity relates to risk for the client (for example, if their gender identity is the target of conflict or abuse).
- Record all information provided about the child’s gender in case notes.
- Enquire further if there is a risk to the client associated with discrimination, family rejection or violence targeted at their gender identity.
- Consider asking:
- what the child’s pronouns are, if known
- who advised the caller of the child’s gender and if it has been confirmed by the child or family
- who knows of the child’s gender
- about any discrimination, family rejection or violence experienced by the young person related to their gender identity that may yield further information about the risk
- Record information about the child’s gender in case notes.
- Clearly identify in CRIS notes who knows of the child’s gender identity.
- Do not complete the gender information on the Identity section on CRIS unless the child or young person has confirmed their gender identity with you directly.
- If the Intake report indicates the child or young person may be gender diverse, seek confirmation and information from the child at the earliest safe and appropriate opportunity.
- Ask the child about their gender identity when they are alone or with someone they trust.
- Use professional judgement about the most appropriate manner of asking a child or young person about their gender.
You can say:
- “Hi, my name is _________, and my pronouns are _________. What about you?”
- “What name would you like me to call you?”
- “What are some important things about you that would help me to know who you are?”
Not everyone will know what ‘pronouns’ are, and practitioners should raise the subject of pronouns only if they are prepared to explain pronouns as part of the discussion with the client. Common examples of pronouns are he/him, she/her or they/them.
- If the child or young person confirms they are gender diverse, ask them if they want to talk to you about their gender before speaking further.
- Consider asking:
- about the child or young person’s experience with gender
- who they have spoken to about their gender identity and to whom they feel safe to acknowledge and talk about their gender
- how people around the child or young person respond to their gender identity.
- Advise the child you can record their gender on the system and ask how they want their gender recorded and discussed.
- Advise the child that they can request the way in which their gender is recorded in CRIS can be changed at any time.
- Establish who else, if anyone, you can reference their gender to, including their family.
- Cease the discussion if the child or young person is uncomfortable, unable, or unwilling to articulate what their gender is.
- Advise the child of gender-inclusive services they may be referred to if they require support and ask if they would prefer to be referred to LGBTIQA+ services (where relevant). Some appropriate services are listed in Gender identity and gender diverse clients - advice
- Record the child’s gender identity under Gender Information in the Identity section of the CRIS file, in accordance with their wishes.
- Record the child or young person’s gender identity only if the information has been obtained directly from them. If this is not possible or appropriate, leave the gender section of CRIS blank.
Throughout child protection involvement (protective intervention, protection order and closure)
As with many things for children and young people, gender identity can change over time or across contexts. Consider revisiting conversations about gender throughout involvement, if established that a child or young person is comfortable to talk about it.
- Record any changes under Gender in the Identity section of the CRIS file.
- Make every effort to acknowledge and support the child’s gender identity by using their pronouns and preferred name when speaking to them, where it is assessed as safe for the client to do so.
- Use the child’s pronouns and preferred name in case notes and documents, where assessed in the child’s best interest and with their full consent.
- In circumstances where the child or young person wishes for their gender not to be shared with others, limit references to their gender identity in CRIS and relevant documents, and where this has occurred, mark as confidential so they may be redacted if ever released.
- Confirm in supervision the child protection practitioner is asking about and recording gender identity appropriately.
- Provide ongoing supervision and consultation about working with gender diverse children and young people.
Team Manager / Practice Leader tasks
- Provide consultation where required about working with gender diverse clients.