By Jessica Wooley
Specialist assessment is not counselling, as it is a more structural approach constrained by time. A specialist assessment will generally be used to assist Child Protection’s investigation. Specialist assessment is a process to clarify allegations of concern around sexual abuse. CASAs conduct specialist assessments for children up to 17 years of age.
Although a child may present behavioural, verbal or medical indicators of sexual assault, the evidence may not be supported by allegations. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) or a manager will usually request this process be undertaken. CASAs will consider referrals for specialist assessment when undertaking the initial investigative role, aiming to clarify current issues and concerns for a child around allegations of sexual abuse.
The child will undergo five sessions with a counsellor, each with a specific purpose. They aim to build rapport with the child, provide education and assist them to identify who can provide help. The parent will have two sessions with the counsellor, one before the child undertakes the assessment and one to provide feedback after it has been conducted.
CASAs generally require the child to not be in contact with the perpetrator throughout their assessment sessions. Depending on the circumstances, CASAs may carry out specialist assessment when the perpetrator is unknown.