To provide a universal child and family health service, professionals must have the relevant knowledge, skills and attitudes to work with adults and children in a preventative, as well as a clinical context. They also need the skills and capacity to work in partnership with families, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. They must be competent in identification and assessment of health issues, delivering health information, guidance and decision making. All members of the team providing universal child and family health services require core or generic competencies to work with children and families in line with the principles identified in section 3.5.
Competencies are defined as ‘the knowledge, skills, behaviour and characteristics required to carry out an activity (or a combination of activities) in a particular environment or organisational context, in a way that leads to effective and enhanced organisational performance’ [121 p, 68].
Competencies that support effective universal child and family health practice must complement, not replace, existing statements relating to specific workforce competencies. Specifically they should assist in inter-professional learning and collaboration. Professional competencies and standards produced by regulatory authorities and professional colleges will continue to guide the practice of individual disciplines and articulate with broader service-based competencies.
All nurses and midwives work under the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Council (ANMC) national standards for regulation of nursing and midwifery. Currently there are no nationally endorsed competencies for CFHN though state-based competencies exist in NSW, Victoria and South Australia and others have adopted these competencies (see Appendix 5).
Core competencies for all professionals who work with children and families in Australia have been developed and are currently being finalised. Some suggested competency domains that should apply to all professionals working within the universal child and family service sector are provided.
Potential competency domains
Example of potential competency domains:
- Child-health focus within the context of the family and community.
- A focus on parental (mother/father) wellbeing and family functioning.
- Partnership with families.
- Primary health care approach.
- Knowledge of continuum of health to illness for children.
- Knowledge of child development (physical, emotional, social and cognitive).
- Collaboration across services.
- Professional body of knowledge.
- Ethics and legislation.
- Commitment to performance improvement and evaluation.