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Thanks for sharing the dilemma. In terms of available resources, the learning materials produced by the National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health target those working with families with 0-12-year-olds and therefore only capture the issues facing the younger end of the teen spectrum. Beyond Blue auspice the Be You Initiative via the Mental Health in Education grant and this spans 0-18 supporting children’s and young people’s mental health in early learning services and schools (e.g. Kindergarten, primary and secondary schools). The boundaries of confidentiality depend on the age and maturity of the teenager (informed by state legislation and assessment of the young person’s decision-making capacity), the extent to which the family is willing to be involved and the risk the teenager is experiencing or likely to experience particularly if abuse and neglect was a reason for leaving home. While the role of child protection and our legal obligations in relation to children and young people vary in detail from state to state, they generally share common features requiring our action or advocacy, if a young person is at risk of serious harm and without parental or caregiver protection. While it may be considered a more complex situation for CP intervention (particularly in relation to known service gaps for older teenagers) it is this very issue that may enable your agency to initiate regional interagency discussion to review unmet need, service and child protection limitations in order to strengthen shared knowledge, options and ongoing collegial consultation separate from any individual consultation. In terms of professional guidance, a helpful resource is a Victorian DHHS eLearning portal link below This link takes you to free online training and resources for health and community service professionals working with vulnerable or at-risk children, inclusive of engaging with parents in contact with services such as Child Protection. Of course, differences in legislation covering Child Protection and Juvenile Justice across states mean that these are most suitable for Victorian practitioners however the material around at-risk youth and parent engagement is well developed and useful regardless. In the unlikely scenario that a homeless young person is still connected to school, identifying a trusted ally of the young person and partnering with the school (utilising Be You resources) may be of some support to you both, particularly where there are opportunities for early intervention, developing safety plans and responding to escalating concerns. In general, seeking a community of practice or peer reflection/consultation space for yourself and your colleagues is an important ingredient in sustaining yourselves and your invaluable commitment to young people at risk.
Angela and Myfanwy