Decision on outcome of investigation

Follow this procedure when making decisions after the investigation.

Document ID number 1020, version 3, 30 June 2018.


See advice Substantiation for additional information about the substantiation decision and assessing a person as responsible for harm.

A decision is to be made about substantiation as early as possible, and no later than 28 days after the date of report.

If protective concerns are substantiated, an assessment of anyone responsible for harm is recorded.


Case practitioner tasks

  • Analyse the information gathered during investigation, using the Best interests case practice model.
  • Consult others according to procedure, including:
  • Form your opinion about whether you are satisfied on reasonable grounds that the child is in need of protection, based on the information gathered during the investigation, with regard to any of the following:
    • whether the child has been abandoned and there is no other suitable person willing and able to care for the child
    • whether the child’s parents are deceased or incapacitated and there is no other suitable person willing and able to care for the child
    • whether the child has suffered or is likely to suffer:
      • significant harm as a result of physical injury
      • significant harm as a result of sexual abuse
      • emotional or psychological harm such that their emotional or intellectual development is or is likely to be significantly damaged,

and their parents have not protected or are unlikely to protect them from harm of that type

  • whether the child’s physical development or health has been, or is likely to be significantly harmed and their parents have not provided, arranged or allowed or unlikely to provide, arrange or allow the provision of, basic care or effective medical, surgical or other remedial care
  • Assess who is responsible for harming the child.
  • As soon as possible, make a recommendation as to whether the report is substantiated and obtain supervisor endorsement.

A case is substantiated if a protective intervener is satisfied on reasonable grounds, based on one or more of the grounds defined in s. 162 of the CYFA that the child is in need of protection.

Report is not substantiated

  • If the report is not substantiated record the decision and rationale in CRIS.
  • If there are significant concerns for wellbeing, consider referring the family to a family support or other appropriate service.
  • Move the case to case closure – see procedure Case closure for tasks that must be undertaken.

Report is substantiated

  • If the report is substantiated, record the decision and rationale in CRIS contemporaneously (that is, as soon as possible, and within 24 hours, or the next working day). Take the following steps:
    • indicate the status of each area of concern identified in the report
    • add any additional areas of concern identified during the investigation

Confirmed areas of concern will map to potential grounds for substantiation.

  • identify the primary ground substantiated, and any other grounds substantiated
  • identify and record the person or people responsible for harming the child

Where you are satisfied that the child has suffered harm already, it is self-evident that the child’s parent has not protected the child from harm of that type. Their capacity to protect the child in future will be a matter for assessment and professional judgement.

  • move the case to protective intervention – see procedures under Protective intervention for tasks that must be undertaken next

For infants (under two) where a report is substantiated

  • For any child under the age of two years, an infant response decision is required in CRIS after the substantiation of any ground. Dependent on the assessment of risk to the infant, a decision will be made as to whether the infant requires an ‘infant response’ or an ‘infant intensive response’.

The infant response decision should match the level of risk assessed for the infant and the service response the infant needs to address the protective concerns.

See Infant risk assessment and response decision - advice for an explanation of each response type and procedure Infant risk assessment and response decision for tasks that must be undertaken.

In all cases

  • Inform the child and the parents, in writing, of the outcome of the investigation, including:
    • the substantiation decision and rationale
    • what will happen next.
  • Comply with confidentiality requirements of the CYFA:
    • You must not disclose the details of the investigation to anyone other than those specified in s. 206(2) of the CYFA.
  • Complete CRIS requirements including mandatory screens and record of activity, decisions and rationales.

Supervisor tasks

  • Provide ongoing supervision and consultation.
  • Approve significant decisions affecting the conduct of the investigation.  

Team manager tasks

  • Endorse key decisions including:
    • substantiation decision
    • infant response decision
    • applications to the Children’s Court.