Behavioural problem in a child < 6 years

Child Development Service

Useful Management Information

  • Behavioural problems in children < 6 years of age are best managed by family support services and behaviour specialists rather than being referred to general paediatrics in the first instance. Children referred under 5 years of age may be redirected to Primary Care community child and family support services.
  • Raising Children Network
  • If you have a reason to suspect a child in Queensland is experiencing harm, or is at risk of experiencing harm, you need to contact Child Safety Services
  • In the majority of cases it is thought inappropriate for children to wait more than 6 months for an outpatient initial appointment

Minimum Referral Criteria

Does your patient meet the minimum referral criteria?
Category 1 (appointment within 30 calendar days)
  • Child in out of home care, known to Department of Child Safety, where there is an imminent threat of breakdown of current foster placement due to behaviour
Category 2 (appointment within 90 calendar days)
  • No category 2 criteria
Category 3 (appointment within 365 calendar days)
  • Children > 5 years with oppositional or hyperactive behaviours

If your patient does not meet the minimum referral criteria

  • Assessment and management information may be found on a range of conditions at HealthPathways
  • If the patient does not meet the criteria for referral but the referring practitioner believes the patient requires specialist review, a clinical override may be requested:
    • Please explain why (e.g. warning signs or symptoms, clinical modifiers, uncertain about diagnosis, etc.)
  • Please note that your referral may not be accepted or may be redirected to another service

Essential Referral Information

  • Description of the behaviours of concern
  • Nature of parent concerns
  • Families of children not yet attending school must have been seen by community child health nurse or an equivalent primary care service for parental support to manage behaviour, and must have seen a behaviour specialist (either a psychologist or individual positive parenting program counsellor) and determined as requiring a specialist paediatrician behaviour assessment. The service or practitioner they have seen should be identified in the referral. The specialist assessing this referral may waive this requirement in circumstances where primary care services are inaccessible.
  • For children attending school, a letter from the school outlining behaviours of concern is required, if school-based behaviours are the primary reason for the referral.
  • Report presence or absence of concerning features
    • Is the child expected to be in out of home care supervised by Child Safety Services for more than 6 months?
    • If so, do you consider that the child’s foster placement is at risk of breaking down due to the child’s behaviour?

Additional Referral Information

Highly Desirable Information – may change triage category

  • GP impression of current developmental status (may be parental assessment) ( = age appropriate, some delays, significant delays). Parents’ Evaluation of Development Status (PEDs ) and/or ages and stages screening .
    • PEDS is available in the “red book”
  • Guidance officer assessment or other information from the school
  • Family history, including family members affected with ASD, ADHD, learning difficulty or mental illness.
  • Audiometry
  • Copies of previous of speech, occupational therapy, physiotherapy or cognitive assessments if available
  • Previous services accessed (other paediatricians, mental health services, developmental therapists, etc)
  • Previous medications or therapies used
  • If the child is in foster care please provide the name and regional office for the Child Safety Officer who is the responsible case manager.
    • Significant psychosocial risk factors (especially parents mental health, family violence, housing and financial stress, department of Child Safety Service involvement)
  • School history – exclusions or suspensions

Desirable information- Will assist at consultation

  • Pregnancy and birth history
  • Other past medical history
  • Immunisation history
  • Developmental history
  • Medication history
  • Height/weight/head circumference and growth charts with prior measurements if available.
  • Other physical examination findings inclusive of CNS, birth marks or dysmorphology
Last updated 6 March 2024

Send Referrals To

Smart Referrals

Preferred Method
About Smart Referrals

Secure Web Transfer

Send to: Gold Coast Child Community Health MO Account: GQ4215000TL HL EDI: qldcomch

Internal Referrals


(07) 5687 4497


Gold Coast University Hospital
1 Hospital Boulevard
Southport QLD 4215


(07) 5687 9141

Related HealthPathways

No directly related pathways found

Service Availability

Dr Francoise Butel
Medical Director Children's Community Health


Gold Coast University Hospital
Southport Health Precinct
Palm Beach Community Health Centre
Helensvale Community Health Centre
Upper Coomera Child Health
Early Years Centre Coomera Springs
Norfolk Village State School Health & Education Hub

If you would like to send a named referral, please address it to the specialist listed above, who will allocate a suitably qualified specialist to see the patient. Alternatively, you can view a full list of our specialists.

Child Safety

If you have a reason to suspect a child in Queensland is experiencing harm, or is at risk of experiencing harm, contact Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Services . Please consider if mandatory reporting applies.

Gold Coast Health - For Clinicians
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