Mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse is a critical aspect of safeguarding children from harm. Under the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005, certain professionals are legally obligated to report any reasonable belief or suspicion of child abuse. This blog explores the mandatory reporting requirements in Victoria and highlights the key provisions outlined in the Children, Youth and Families Act.
Child abuse encompasses various forms of harm, including physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, and neglect. It is essential to identify and address instances of abuse promptly to protect vulnerable children and provide them with the necessary support.
In Victoria, specific professionals are designated as mandatory reporters and have a legal duty to report suspected cases of child abuse. These professionals include but are not limited to:
- Registered medical practitioners;
- Registered teachers and early childhood teachers;
- School principals;
- Police officers;
- People in religious ministry;
- Early childhood workers;
- Registered psychologists;
- School counsellors;
- Out of home care workers (excluding voluntary foster and kinship carers); and,
- Youth justice workers.
The identity of all reporters is protected by law and Child Protection cannot disclose the identity of reporters to the parents, families or professionals unless this is an order of the Court.
Pursuant to Section 184 of the Act, a mandatory reporter must make a report to the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH) if they have a reasonable belief that a child has suffered or is at risk of significant harm due to physical or sexual abuse.
When a mandatory reporter suspects child abuse, they should promptly report their concerns to the DFFH Child Protection hotline on 13 12 78. The hotline operates 24/7 and ensures that reports are received and appropriately assessed. It is crucial for mandatory reporters to provide detailed and accurate information about the child, the suspected abuse, and any relevant circumstances to facilitate the investigation process.
Failure to fulfil the mandatory reporting obligations can have consequences and professionals who fail to report child abuse may face a significant fine.
The Children, Youth and Families Act outlines the obligations of designated professionals to report suspected cases of child abuse promptly. By complying with these obligations, professionals play a crucial role in protecting children from harm and ensuring their safety and wellbeing. It is imperative that all individuals involved in child-related professions familiarise themselves with the legislation and act swiftly to report any suspicions of child abuse, contributing to a safer environment for all children in Victoria.
If you are currently facing Federal Circuit and Family Court proceedings or Children’s Court proceedings, please call our office at 03 9670 4122 to arrange an initial consultation.