Clara Davis

Clara Davis, 29 May, 2022

Originally from the UK, Clara took a gap year to Australia and met up with a friend who was studying at QUT. She soon discovered the double degree in justice and psychology that QUT offers, and not one to sway from a challenge decided to move half way across the world to study the following year.

With a passion for investigating and helping others Clara now works as a Child Safety Officer for the Queensland Government. A role that is both challenging and rewarding.

Here she talks about life as a Child Safety Officer and how protecting children has become her focus.

Can you sum up in a few sentences what you do in your job? 

I am a Child Safety Officer (CSO) and I currently work in the investigation and assessment (I&A) phase of the child protection continuum. In summary, based on concerns that have been screened in by the intake team, I go and see families to investigate these concerns. I am the first face families see when involved with the department. I conduct interviews with children, parents, family members and friends, and gather information from other entities and departments, to form my assessment and determine what action should be taken with the family.

Why did you choose to get into child protection? 

I had not initially planned to go into child protection. While I was at my previous job waitressing/bartending, I connected with a customer who was a current employee at the department and encouraged me to apply. I had always been interested in investigating, I have a background of working with children and the nature of the job appealed to me. I felt that it would be incredibly interesting, challenging and a great role to start building my skillset for my career.

How long have you been working in child protection? 

I have been working for child protection in Toowoomba since May 2021. It is my first professional role outside of university, so naturally it was daunting on my first day. Everyone in the office made me feel welcome and I began online training alongside assisting trained CSOs with “seconding” (note taking/assisting with other CSOs cases) before attending an intensive two week training course.

What is it like working in child protection? What’s a normal day? 

In this role, no day is a normal day. Things can change very quickly and as a CSO you have to respond to concerns within time frames, sometimes that is within 24 hours. My office works within a three hour radius of Toowoomba. You quickly get to know all your colleagues on a personal level since we always go out in pairs and will often be on the road for most of the day seeing various families within that radius. We allocate in-office days to make sure the paperwork is up-to-date, referrals are being made and families are getting the best outcome possible in a timely manner.

What are some of the major projects you have been involved in/career highlights to date? 

It is hard to say because in my role we have a fairly high turnover in terms of cases so it can be easy to lose track (an I&A usually lasts approximately six weeks). I would have to say the outcome of a complex case I had at the end of last year is one of the biggest highlights so far. One of the children had been really struggling at school in part because of their home life. Following our intervention, I received an email from the school who advised that they were excelling and had become noticeably more confident in themselves and among their peers. This is a highlight for me because at times when you are in the thick of it, it can seem heavy, especially as someone new to the department. When you come out the other side and the heaviness subsides, you realise you did a good job and helped to change a child’s life.

What are some of the challenges? 

Child protection has many unique challenges which comes with the nature of the work we do. It goes without saying, dealing with families who for the most part do not want our involvement can be challenging and trying to work around this to ultimately ensure the children are safe is difficult (but achievable). In my opinion, the most challenging part of the role is at times the case load. When the case load is too high it can be difficult to juggle. In saying that, the office is extremely responsive to this and will offer help where it is needed.

What advice would you give a current student thinking of working in child protection? 

Firstly, even if you do not have an interest in child protection specifically, I would highly encourage anyone to give it a go. The experiences in this role are so unique and extremely transferrable to a multitude of careers. This role opens your eyes so much to the struggles families face every day and gives you a fantastic opportunity to apply yourself to improve the lives of children, who are among the most vulnerable demographic, and support parents to create a safe environment for their children.

What are your future goals? 

My passion lies with investigating and helping people. I feel I will always gravitate to that and this role presents many opportunities extending past I&A. I am not certain where I would like to go from here specifically but I am sure I will fall into something related to this work if I decide to move on at some point. I love travelling and ideally, I would find a role which incorporates that element along with my passion for investigating.

You can find out more about the Bachelor of Behavioural Science (psychology)/Bachelor of Justice

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Clara Davis square

Clara Davis

Bachelor of Behavioural Science (Psychology)

Bachelor of Justice (Criminology and Policing)

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