Sexual exploitation

Follow this procedure when working with children and young people at risk of or subject to sexual exploitation.
Document ID number 1604, version 7, 20 November 2021.

Children who are clients of child protection are at an increased risk of, or vulnerable to, sexual exploitation.

Children may be at risk of sexual exploitation when they are living with their family, with kin or in a care services arrangement.

For additional information see Sexual exploitation - advice.


Case practitioner tasks

Identification of sexual exploitation

  • Complete an incident report when information is received that a child is believed to be at risk of or has been sexually exploited – Refer to Critical Incident Guidelines.
  • Inform the local Victoria Police SOCIT the child is believed to be at risk of  or has been sexually exploited.
  • Conduct a thorough review of the file to assess historical trauma and the impact it may be having upon the child’s current presentation.
  • Consult with the team manager and sexual exploitation practice leader.
  • If the child is in out-of-home care, convene a care team or for a child still in parental care, hold a professionals case conference  meeting to gather information about the exploitation and to formulate appropriate risk management and safety strategies.
  • Complete and submit a CRIS generated sexual exploitation template within two business days - further outlined in Sexual exploitation template process map.
  • Review risk assessment, update the essential information categories, record decisions, actions and rationales on CRIS.

Responding to sexual exploitation:

  • Maintain interaction with Victoria Police, and collate information to identify the specific exploitation – including the name and address of the person(s) of interest.
  • Consider actions to obtain details of the sexual exploitation, including:
    • removing the child’s mobile phone subject to practice guidance
    • viewing and documenting the child’s on-line social media activity.
  • Document information about the child’s experience in a new or updated sexual exploitation information template.
  • When a child is believed or confirmed to be sexually exploited, an individual risk and response plan is required.  
  • The plan should be developed and regularly reviewed in consultation with the child’s family, care or professional team. The risk assessment should also be regularly reviewed and updated to ensure the risk of sexual exploitation is assessed and that the relevant actions are taken to monitor, increase safety and decrease the risks of sexual exploitation are recorded. Complete the individual risk and response plan, where required.
  • Place all children with a Tier 1 or 2 sexual exploitation evidence rating on the divisional high-risk schedule.

Sexual exploitation evidence rating

Tier 1 There is confirmed knowledge of exploitative activity, including dates, times and locations. For example, the identity of Person of Interest is known or currently being established, or the child discloses sex acts with an adult (sexual exploitation) or a critical incident of sexual assault (such as rape). In this example the identity of the offender is not required.

Tier 2 The child’s behaviour or actions strongly suggest they are being sexually exploited, but active child protection engagement is required to verify exploitative activity and/or identify the person of interest with assistance of Victoria Police where required.

  • Actively monitor children at risk of sexual exploitation through the divisional high-risk schedule and panel.

For children subject to a Tier 1 sexual exploitation evidence rating, maintain regular meetings with Victoria Police SOCITs and develop a risk and response plan to cease or disrupt the exploitation. The risk and response plan may include:

  • serving the perpetrator or person of interest with a s. 497 CYFA 2005 Notice to have no contact with a child
  • serving the perpetrator or person of interest with a s. 495 CYFA 2005 Notice not to harbour, conceal or prevent a child from returning to the perpetrator or person of interest's residence
  • applying for a family violence or personal safety intervention order on behalf of the child or young person
  • implementing other identified legal measures.

Written notices under s497 and s495 CYFA 2005 cannot be used when a child or young person is placed with their parent/s under an interim accommodation order or a family preservation order. In these circumstances, case practitioners can work collaboratively with the family and Victoria Police to secure an intervention order on behalf of the child or young person.

Legal and recording requirements

  • The service of a no contact letter or harbouring letter must be recorded in CRIS and a statutory declaration of service completed and attached to the client file. Case notes should include a summary of contact with the person of interest, including dates and times of service.
  • Documented consultation with Victoria Police SOCIT and the Child Protection Litigation Office (CPLO), or divisional legal officer, must occur before applications for intervention orders can proceed.

Team manager, practice leader and deputy area operations manager tasks

  • As a supervisor, ensure that all required tasks and actions are completed by the responsible case manager and documented on CRIS.
  • If you are the case planner, review and endorse the child’s case plan and the risk assessment or review risk assessment, being mindful of specific requirements for children who have been, or who are at risk of sexual exploitation, including consistency with the risk and response plan.

Sexual exploitation practice leader

  • Undertake consultations with case managers to determine a child’s individual risk and what actions are required to mitigate that risk.
  • Assist case managers to complete link charts and other measures to ensure networks of believed or confirmed sexual exploitation cases are appropriately documented and responded to.
  • Liaise with other sexual exploitation practice leaders to ensure state-wide oversight of sexual exploitation networks.  
  • Facilitate individual and divisional correspondence with Victoria Police and other key service providers to ensure appropriate measures are in place to  address child sexual exploitation.
  • In collaboration with area operations manager/director, child protection, ensure divisional workplan objectives are updated and finalised.
  • Maintain the statewide register of children at risk of sexual exploitation.
  • Review all sexual exploitation information templates prior to their submission to the area operations manager/director, child protection, or their delegate.
  • Ensure all divisionally endorsed templates are attached to the child’s CRIS file and are sent to Victoria Police SOCITs.

Area operations manager/director, child protection tasks

  • Provide oversight of children who are believed or confirmed to be sexually exploited.
  • In collaboration with the team manager, sexual exploitation practice leader and deputy area operations manager, regularly review divisional children on the statewide sexual exploitation register.
  • Review and endorse the sexual exploitation template.