Introduction to CIMS (Client Incident Management System)


Many carers would have heard of, or directly experienced, a Quality of Care Investigation relating to an alleged incident/s of harm, whilst caring for your child or young person. This process has often been difficult and practice across DHHS Regions inconsistent.

This process of investigating alleged harm whilst in care has now been replaced with the new Client Incident Management System (CIMS) and was implemented as of the 15 January 2018.

Whilst the new CIMS processes and procedures may differ, the focus remains the same; that is, the safety and wellbeing of the child is paramount.

One of the fundamental differences of the new CIMS however, is the commitment by the DHHS that this new process ensures a stronger focus on the most serious client incidents, as well as focusing on the impact on the client (as opposed to the incident itself).  


What is an incident in Out of Home care?

An incident is an event that has a direct impact on a child or young person in Out of Home care. In the CIMS, an incident is assessed as having either a major impact or a non-major impact on a child or young person.

A major impact incident includes: the unanticipated death of a client; severe physical, emotional or psychological injury or suffering which is likely to cause ongoing trauma; or a pattern of incidents related to one client which, when taken together, meet the level of harm to a client defined above. This may be the case even if each individual incident is a non-major impact incident.

A non-major impact incident includes: an incident that causes physical, emotional or psychological injury or suffering, without resulting in major impact as defined above. In these instances the impacts to the client are assessed as not requiring significant changes to care requirements, other than short-term interventions (for example, first aid, observation, talking interventions or short-term medical treatment).

All major impact incidents need to be reported to the funded organisation (Agency) within 24 hours. Upon learning of the incident and all non-major impact incidents, the funded organisation needs to be make a record on client incident register and provide these records to the department, on a monthly basis.


What is an Incident Investigation?

All major impact incidents will be followed by either an incident investigation or an incident review to ensure the appropriate response and learning is undertaken to keep children and young people in Out of Home care safe from harm.

The guide specifies that all major impact incidents alleging abuse, unexplained injury or poor quality of care must initially be screened by the funded organisation (Agency), in consultation with Child Protection, to determine whether an investigation is required.

The guide outlines the possible actions that can occur if a major impact incident alleging abuse, unexplained injury or poor quality of care is raised about a carer. These are:
> No further investigative action: In a small number of cases, it can be clearly shown that the report is inaccurate or there is no basis for concern about the safety of the child or young person or the quality of care the child or young person is receiving.

> Monitoring and support required: Certain information may raise issues that do not warrant an investigation but highlight the need for enhanced support and supervision of the carer. In this situation, a Carer Development Plan is usually developed between the funded organisation and the carer to work on any identified concerns. The Carer Development Plan process is intended to be focussed on promoting practice improvement by carers and funded organisations working together to overcome any identified quality of care concerns and reducing the chance of a similar incident happening again.

Internal investigation: In some cases, screening finds there is enough information to warrant a formal investigation. When this happens, the funded organisation has to make sure the person chosen to conduct the internal investigation has the right skills and independence from the incident to meet the standards of investigation set out in the guide.

> External investigation: In some cases, screening finds that there is enough information to show that the only way to make sure the investigation is objective and expert is to commission an appropriately skilled external investigator. Eg: if a smaller funded organisation doesn’t have staff in separate areas that can act independently and without bias.

Similarly, as per the Quality of Care guidelines, a CIMS Investigation should be completed within a 28 day (business days) timeframe. A number of outcomes may result from an Investigation. Any appeal must be lodged within 14 days (business) of being notified of the outcome.


Support for carers

It is the role of the funded organisation (Agency) to provide support and assistance to carers. This involves providing carers with:
> information about the investigation or review process, including timelines for completion;

> the outcome of an investigation or review;

> the implications for the carer;

> advice about support options (if applicable);

> information about the relevant decision review process.


A carer can choose a person to provide support through the incident investigation or review process, including support at interview. This support person may be from the carer’s own personal network or can be another carer available and willing to provide support. The carer’s support person cannot be someone who has direct involvement with the incident under consideration. A carer may also request this support person be a person from the Foster Care Association of Victoria.


The Carer Information and Support Service (CISS) team has been undertaking direct training and completing learning modules in CIMS in order to be up to date with the new process and procedures to better advise carers.


Please contact the CISS team on 9416 4292 should you have any questions about CIMS and/or are requiring support.


For more information please look at the CIMS Fact Sheet for Carers and the DHHS website.