Background: Child abuse and neglect need to be addressed through a public health approach that prioritises prevention and early intervention. Nurses and midwives are core to this public health response, yet little is known about how their roles are described in Australian policy.
Aim: To explore how nurses’ and midwives’ roles in a public health response to child abuse and neglect are described in Australian policies about child protection, health, welfare, or development.
Methods: This policy review used Internet searching to identify Australian policy documents relating to child protection, health, welfare, or development published from 2009 to 2021. Data were analysed using deductive coding and content analysis. Findings: Nurses’ and midwives’ contributions to a public health response to child abuse and neglect were either absent or described in scant detail within Australian policy. The information that was available represented only a portion of nursing and midwifery practices from a limited range of practice contexts.
Discussion: A lack of visibility and clarity of nurses’ and midwives’ roles in policy raises many challenges. This includes a lack of guidance for interdisciplinary collaboration, educational preparation of nurses and midwives, and appropriate resourcing for their interventions. Further research is urgently needed to guide future best-practice policy and practices for nurses’ and midwives’ contributions to a public health response to child abuse and neglect.
Conclusion: An enhanced representation of nurses’ and midwives’ roles in Australian policy is required to guide a public health approach that promotes better outcomes for all children.