Safeguarding Australian children

Posted 19 Jan 2021

What roles do nurses and midwives play in safeguarding children?

A Flinders University research team made up of registered nurses with experience working with and researching children and families will take a close look at the safeguarding roles of these two professions in child-focused settings across Australia.

The project aims to advise future development of practice standards, inform nursing and midwifery education, and guide policy to mobilise the professions to enact change and promote better outcomes for vulnerable children.

This work will be carried out with the help of a Flinders Foundation Health Seed Grant.

Safeguarding refers to the practice of promoting children’s safety and wellbeing and protecting those who may be at risk of abuse, neglect or exploitation.

Lead researcher, Dr Lauren Lines, says the study is significant because there are no international or national guidelines for nursing and midwifery safeguarding practices.

“Nurses and midwives are the largest group of health professionals and have unique capacity to enact change through their work with Australian children and families."

“Nurses' and midwives’ roles in mandatory reporting of child abuse and neglect are clearly defined, but their broader roles in safeguarding children are poorly understood and largely invisible in government policy and professional guidelines.

“This is despite evidence, including an international scoping review, that nurses actively identify, prevent, address and mitigate the impacts of child abuse, especially in settings where they work directly with children and families.

“Without clear understandings of nursing and midwifery roles, it is uncertain how we can best prepare and mobilise this large, pre-existing and highly-skilled workforce to effectively safeguard children.”

Research category: Children's health

Project title: Identifying the nature and scope of Australian nurses' and midwives' safeguarding practices

Lead researcher: Dr Lauren Lines


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