Information for Social workers
If you are a social worker or working for child protection services, there may be a time when you are called in to investigate a case about possible FGM or become aware of a child at risk of FGM.
With FGM there is no way to prove intention, but there are indicators or risk factors to watch out for such as:
- If tickets are purchased for a trip away for a “holiday”
- A child is in the highest risk category for FGM if:
- her mother has FGM
- her sibling has FGM or
- if her father comes from an FGM affected community
- If there is an elder relative visiting from an FGM affected community
You need to ask tough questions:
- Does the mother have FGM?
- Does the older sister,any cousins have FGM?
- Do the family believe FGM serves any social purpose or benefit for the girl?
- If the family do support FGM, if the mother is from an FGM affected community, even if she does not support FGM she may not be able to protect the daughter if other relatives still support the practice.
Following a referral for FGM:
- Meet the family and discuss the legal status of FGM, that the child is considered in danger. Explain this does not mean the child is going to be removed, but that FGM is considered a serious crime and investigation is necessary to keep the child safe.
- Arrange for a child protectionorder whichincludes ongoing medical checks to ensure that the child remains safe. There may also be requirement for travel restrictions in some cases.
- Thereis usually no need to have the child removed unless the family is expressing strongly their intention to have the daughter undergo FGM which would be unlikely.
The laws are different for each state.
Information for Child Care Workers
If you work in early childhood education and care, it is important that you also know about female genital mutilation in order to protect girls or detect if female genital mutilation has occurred. FGM is physical abuse, sexual abuse and psychological abuse.
As early childhood educators are often aware of intimate family details such as travel plans, there are signs to watch for to raise concerns about a girl who is either in danger or has undergone FGM:
- When changing nappies watch out for girls who may have injuries to their genitals.
- If families are going away for an extended period ask what they are going to do on their holiday.
- Find out if they are travelling to a country which practices FGM.
- Be alert to any discussion about celebrations involving the little girls.
- Call child protection services as a mandatory reporter if you hear any plans for “circumcision”.
Girls are in danger if their families originate from countries known to practice FGM.
If you are concerned please contact the police or child protection. Early childhood educators are mandatory reporters for any form of child abuse.
Child protection in Victoria after hours number to call is: 131278
To notify child protection in Tasmania call
1300 737 639
Dept of Communities, Child Safety and Disabilities
1800 177 135 or (07) 3235 9999
South Australian Child Abuse contact Child Abuse Report Line on 131 478
The NSW Child Protection Helpline on
132 111 (TTY 1800 212 936)
for the cost of a local call, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
West Australia Department of Child Protection and Family support call (08) 9222 2555 (Business Hours)
after hours, please contact Crisis Care:
Telephone: (08) 9223 1111
Country free call: 1800 199 008 .
Northern Territory Dept of Children and Families 24 hour toll free number
1800 700 250