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How to become a child protection officer

19 September 2022

There is an increasing need for well-qualified child protection officers in Australia. In fact, there has recently been a new campaign by the Queensland Government showcasing child safety as a viable career.

Child protection officers have a wide range of responsibilities. And they’re designed to get and keep vulnerable children out of harm’s way. But what do child protection officers do? And how do people get into child protection as a career?

Let’s find out by taking a look at:

  • what the role of a child protection officer is
  • how to become a child protection officer
  • why child protection officers are important

What do child protection officers do?

Child protection covers a wide range of roles, all with one aim – to keep or remove children from harm.

Every day is different. But there are some regular tasks involved with child protection work, tasks such as:

  • carrying out risk assessments for children and young people who could be in need of protection
  • creating plans that promote the safety and interests of the children, you help protect
  • putting those plans in place to ensure that children and their families receive the practical and emotional support they need
  • working collaboratively with other government and non-government agencies and a child’s family to plan, coordinate and negotiate services that children need
  • promoting the safety and wellbeing of children and young people

You may become involved in court proceedings relating to a child or young person at risk of harm. This can include preparing court documents, attending court and giving evidence.

In Australia, child protection is usually associated with state and territory government departments. And that’s because it’s their responsibility to assist vulnerable children.

But it also works at a federal level. The Australian Federal Police (AFP) also employs child protection officers.

Like state and territory governments, the AFP plays an important role in ensuring that children and young people are safe from harm. This includes the AFP having a strong partnership with:

  • all Australian law enforcement agencies
  • many international agencies
  • government departments
  • industry
  • not-for-profit organisations.

The duties of child protection officers employed by the AFP include:

  • removing and keeping children from harm
  • prosecuting people who seek to harm or exploit children and young people
  • targeting both individuals and networks engaged in online child exploitation
  • liaising with state, territory and Australian government partners, industry and non-government agencies to fight online sexual exploitation of children
  • leading initiatives such as ThinkUKnow, Playing IT Safe and the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation

A child protection officer, therefore, spends time in an office environment as well as time out in the community.

Happy young family sitting on couch and talking with a child protection officer.

How much can a child protection officer earn?

In relation to how much child protection officers get paid, this varies between each state and territory. Salaries start from $64,072 in Tasmania and can go up to $124,183 in Victoria. And there are also career pathways with upward trajectories for child protection officers.

How to become a child social worker

Many people wonder how to become a child advocate or how to refine their skills as a child social worker or child protection officer.

There are many different requirements to become a child protection officer in Australia, and those requirements depend on the state or territory you wish to work in.

A degree in social work is usually accepted, but government departments usually accept other degrees as well. This may include a degree in one of the following disciplines:

  • community services
  • social sciences
  • human resources
  • health or related area

This is where SCU Online’s Master of Mental Health comes in. It’s not only adults who experience mental health issues. Children do too, and this makes family intervention, support and engagement in mental health care paramount.

Child mental health management is increasingly important, given that younger Australians are more likely to experience high levels of psychological distress.

Studying a masters degree will give you the additional skills needed for child protection work. It will also set the foundations for a promising career in the industry.

SCU Online’s Master of Mental Health increases your understanding of mental health and psychology. This means you will be better equipped to respond appropriately when dealing with a child at risk, especially if they are also experiencing mental health issues or trauma.

What is the importance of child protection officers?

Child protection officers play an imperative role in the lives of children and young people who are at risk of harm. The recommendations you make for children at risk can involve difficult choices. But those tough decisions can have positive and far-reaching impacts on the future of a child or young person, and their families.

There are many factors that draw people into child protection work, including:

  • wanting to make a positive difference by helping to protect children at risk
  • experiencing satisfaction from interacting and working with families
  • having good analytical thinking and problem-solving capabilities and wanting to make the best use of those skills
  • being able to relate to people from a variety of backgrounds and cultures
  • having good communication skills
  • enjoying working in a team environment

Child protection officers tend to be caring, compassionate people. They have a genuine desire to help children, young people and their families.

Do you have what it takes to work in child protection?

Whether you are a child protection officer looking to upskill, or someone seeking a career change, SCU Online’s Master of Mental Health will equip you with valuable skills needed for child protection work.

Advance your skills with a 100 per cent online degree. Our flexible study options will allow you to build your future while fitting in around your work and personal commitments.

Discover where a Master of Mental Health can take you.