The Department of Local Government and Communities (DLGC) was identified by the Ombudsman as one of three government agencies which has a role in supporting the prevention and reduction of sleep-related infant deaths. DLGC is under obligation to meet recommendations by the Ombudsman, set out in the report on the ‘Investigation into ways that Western Australian Government Departments can prevent or reduce sleep-related infant deaths’.
These recommendations were:
Recommendation 11: It is recommended that the Department for Communities collaborates with the Department of Health to establish a departmental policy on safe sleeping, based on the Department of Health’s safe sleeping statement, to guide interactions between Department for Communities’ staff and parents and carers.
Recommendation 12: It is recommended that the Department for Communities ensures that its adoption of DLGC’s policy on safe sleeping is accompanied by strategies to:
- ensure that the relevant program workers have the skills and knowledge necessary to implement the policy in their programs;
- keep program workers’ skills and knowledge up to date as information changes; and
- monitor and evaluate the implementation of its new procedures for providing the safe sleeping advice to families.
The Safe Infant Sleeping Policy (the policy) is guided by the recommendations in the Ombudsman’s report (2012), and by the Department of Health’s Safe Infant Sleeping Framework (2013). This policy has been created in consultation with the Department of Health, in line with Recommendation 11 of the Ombudsman’s report.
This policy is accompanied by:
- Safe sleeping Practice Guidelines; and
- Safe sleeping Operational Plan.
To provide guidance to staff, volunteers and department purchased services to reduce sleep-related deaths in infants through the:
- provision of consistent, endorsed safe sleeping advice to parents and carers; and
- promotion of consistent safe sleeping knowledge and practices in the Education and Care Sector.
To support DLGC to align policies and practice with the Department of Health’s Safe Infant Sleeping Framework, and to enable DLGC to implement the relevant Principles of Practice from this framework.
Unless otherwise stated, the guidance provided in this policy is relevant to those staff, volunteers and department purchased services who provide relevant parenting information to the public.
The department supports safe sleeping practices to reduce sleep-related deaths in infants. The provision of safe sleeping messages to parents and carers must be consistent with safe sleeping messages endorsed by the Department of Health.
The six key messages to be promoted and reinforced are:
- Sleep baby on back.*
- Keep head and face uncovered.
- Keep baby smoke free before and after birth.
- Safe sleeping environment night and day.
- Sleep baby in a safe cot in parent’s room.
- Breastfeed baby, if you can.**
*Medical advice may be needed for babies with a severe disability
** While breast feeding is best, it may not be possible for every mother
These messages should be reinforced at the primary residence of families, and at other sleep locations, such as the home of friends or relatives. They should also be promoted and reinforced in education and care services and other places where babies sleep.
DLGC works with families and children from pre-birth to 18 years. This document provides guidance where relevant to the child’s age and the words ‘baby’ and ‘infant’ are used interchangeably.
- DLGC recognises that families experience broad-ranging circumstances that inform their values and ways of caring. DLGC supports practice that is sensitive and takes account of the culturally specific circumstances of each family.
- Programs and services delivered or purchased by DLGC, including parenting programs, parenting support and home visiting, must use evidence-based recommendations on safe sleeping endorsed by the Department of Health.
- DLGC will provide guidance to staff, volunteers and department purchased services through consistent, endorsed safe sleeping advice to parents and carers and promote consistent safe sleeping knowledge and practices in the education and care sector.
- Staff, volunteers and department purchased services are to work in partnership with parents and carers to provide them with consistent, endorsed safe sleeping advice.
- DLGC acknowledges the importance of providing safe sleeping messages to the primary carer and other involved family members who may support the primary carer or act as carers, such as grandparents. DLGC supports Father Inclusive Practice.
- DLGC recognises that parents and carers may co-sleep/bed-share for personal or cultural reasons, or unintentionally. Parents and carers should be supported to make informed choices about sleeping arrangements for infants through the provision of accurate information about sharing sleep surfaces with a baby, including risks and strategies to maximise safety.
- This policy relates to relevant departmental staff and volunteers, particularly the directorates of Service Delivery, Community Funding, Education and Care Regulatory Unit, and Strategy, Research and Initiatives.
- This policy is also applicable to department purchased services that provide services to parents, carers, families and children.
- This policy supports the legislation relevant to the education and care sector:
- Education and Care Services National Law (WA) 2012
- Education and Care Services National Regulations 2012.
Practice Requirements and Procedures
- Staff and volunteers, and department purchased services are required to ensure their knowledge about safe sleeping is up to date with current endorsed safe sleeping messages. Relevant DLGC staff and volunteers and DLGC purchased services must complete the Safe Sleeping E-Learning Package by SIDS and Kids WA and the Department of Health within three months of this policy’s endorsement.
- New staff and volunteers in relevant directorates and department purchased services must complete the Safe Sleeping E-Learning Package as part of their induction training.
- Staff, volunteers and department purchased services should review resources currently in use and ensure that they utilise the safe sleeping resources recommended by the Department of Health. Culturally appropriate resources which present consistent messages and address practices such as stroller sleeping and wrapping are to be provided to parents and carers as relevant. The resources endorsed by the Department of Health are available online from SIDS and Kids WA.
- Where information is provided to parents and carers about co-sleeping/bed-sharing, staff, volunteers and department purchased services should familiarise themselves with the Department of Health Statewide Co-sleeping/Bed-sharing Policy and utilise the Department of Health Safe Infant Sleeping Information for Parents, Carers and Families brochure.
- Staff, volunteers and department purchased services should engage with parents and carers in a consultative manner to deliver safe sleeping messages in a way that is not directive. Each family’s unique circumstances should be considered to support the parents and carers adopt endorsed safe sleeping practices.
- Staff, volunteers and department purchased services must ensure that safe sleeping messages target and are accessible to all parents and carers, including fathers, grandparents, people from an Aboriginal or culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) background, and people with disability.
- Staff, volunteers and DLGC purchased services are to incorporate endorsed safe sleeping messages into all programs and services where relevant, including parenting programs, parenting support, and home-visiting; as well as resources such as brochures, websites and DVDs.
- Relevant department staff, volunteers and staff from department purchased services should complete the Safe Sleeping E-Learning Package every 3 years.
- Safe sleeping is to be incorporated into professional support processes as a requisite element of professional development for relevant staff, volunteers and department purchased services.
- Authorised Officers are required to promote safe sleeping practices within the education and care sector and provide information and advice to services to assist them to implement endorsed safe sleeping practices. The Safe Sleeping E-Learning Package is to be promoted by Authorised Officers as training for relevant staff in the education and care sector.
- The completion of the Safe Sleeping E-Learning Package by staff, volunteers and DLGC purchased services is to be monitored through an annual audit by DLGC. Certificates of Completion are to be provided to supervisors in the department (or Department purchased services as relevant). Professional support processes should be utilised by managers in relevant directorates to support staff to complete the E-Learning package within expected timeframes.
- At a service delivery level, DLGC supervisors and DLGC purchased services must ensure that the messages provided by their staff and volunteers about safe sleeping are consistent with those endorsed by the Department of Health. This may occur through day-to-day management, team meetings, professional support processes or other supervisory processes.
- An inter-agency audit tool will evaluate the consistency of message delivery across all relevant government agencies.
- Relevant DLGC purchased services are to comply with this policy.
- A nominated DLGC individual (Manager Program Development, Service Delivery) will oversee the implementation of this policy and monitor DLGC’s activities in line with the objectives identified in the Safe Infant Sleeping Inter-Agency Implementation Plan.
- The Service Delivery Directorate will promote safe sleeping knowledge and this policy.
- Communication of this policy is to be done in consultation with Community and Corporate Communications.
- This policy is to be communicated by email notification and the intranet to all directorates within DLGC and to relevant DLGC purchased services.
- This policy is to be made available on DLGC’s website and intranet. DLGC’s website is to be updated with current information and links to endorsed resources about safe sleeping. Safe sleeping is to be promoted on the Parenting WA Facebook page.
- Where this policy is relevant to staff, volunteers and department purchased services, managers should highlight the requirements of staff and volunteers through mechanisms such as team meetings, professional support processes or other supervisory processes.
- Information sessions are to be delivered to relevant staff, volunteers and department purchased services to explain this policy, highlight key requirements, and provide information on training, resources and, where relevant, reporting requirements.
- Corporate Executive is to be informed about the implementation and outcomes of this policy.
- A nominated DLGC individual (Manager Program Development, Service Delivery) will liaise with the Department of Health to facilitate communication and reporting on the outcomes achieved by DLGC as identified in the Safe Infant Sleeping Inter-Agency Implementation Plan.
- Department of Health WA Operational Directive – Statewide Co-Sleeping/Bed-Sharing Policy for WA Health Hospital and Health Services, 2008
- Ombudsman Report, Investigation into ways that State Government Departments can prevent or reduce sleep-related infant deaths, 2012
- Safe Infant Sleeping Framework, Department of Health, 2013
- Safe Infant Sleeping Inter-Agency Implementation Plan, Department of Health, 2013
- TICHR report: Evaluation of the Department of Health Western Australia Operational Directive Statewide Co-Sleeping/Bed-Sharing Policy for WA Health Hospital and Health Services, 2012
- WA Health and SIDS and Kids WA, Safe Sleeping E-Learning Package
- Education Resources, SIDS and Kids WA
- Safe sleeping Tips, SIDS and Kids WA
- Safe Infant Care to Reduce the Risk of Sudden Unexpected Deaths in Infancy Policy Statement and Guidelines, Queensland Government, 2008
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