All states and territories in Australia have legislation
pertaining to the care and protection of children
and young people . All have mandatory reporting
requirements for health professionals, and many
extend the mandatory reporting requirements to
a range of other people who work with children .
Mandatory reporting refers to the legislative requirement imposed on certain people to report suspected
cases of child abuse and neglect to government
authorities .
Each state has its own laws concerning who has
to report, what types of abuse and neglect need to
be reported, and the threshold of concern of harm
which triggers the obligation to report .
In NSW, for the purposes of child protection legislation a child is a person under 16 years of age, and a
young person is 16 or 17 years old .
It is mandatory for any professional working with
children to notify if they have reasonable grounds
to suspect that a child under 16 is at risk of significant harm . In addition, health workers may make
a report about a young person aged 16-17 or class
of young people that they suspect are at risk of
significant harm .
Factors that may indicate a child is at risk of significant harm include physical, sexual or emotional/
psychological abuse, neglect, or exposure to family
violence . (Sections 23 & 27, Children and Young
Persons (Care and Protection Act 1988 (NSW)) . 

Section Three - Chapter Five

Section Three - Chapter Five

In NSW mandatory reporters are those who deliver
the following services to children as part of their
paid or professional work:
• Health care - doctors, nurses, dentists and other
health workers
• Welfare - psychologists, social workers and
youth workers
• Education - teachers
• Children’s services - child care workers, family
day carers and home based carers
• Residential services - refuge workers, community
housing providers
• Law enforcement - police
Any person with direct responsibility to provide
the services listed above must report risk of significant harm to children . Managers, including both
paid employees and volunteers, who supervise
direct services are also mandated to report . If you
are a mandatory reporter, you can call the Child
Protection Helpline on 133 627 . Members of the
general public should call 132 111 .
In NSW Child Wellbeing Units (CWUs) exist within
four government departments – NSW Police Force,
Department of Education and Communities,
NSW Health and the Department of Family and
Community Services . CWUs provide advice to
mandatory reporters within the agency in which
they are based . The NSW Health Child Wellbeing
Units can be contacted on 1300 480 420 . Agencies
without a CWU can contact the Keeping Them Safe
Support Line for information and advice on 1800 772
479 .
In NSW, mandatory reporters are encouraged
to use the Mandatory Reporter Guide to guide
their decision making and determine whether
or not to report to the Child Protection Helpline .
The interactive online guide can be visited at
www .keepthemsafe .nsw .gov .au .
Find out more about mandatory reporting in
NSW at www .community .nsw .gov .au
Information and advice on domestic violence
in NSW is available at www .domesticviolence .
nsw .gov .au .
Child safety and wellbeing is a whole of
community responsibility . Therefore reporting
children at risk of significant harm is only a
part of the health worker role . Health workers
partici­pate in a shared system of child
wellbeing and child protection by
identifying risk of harm,
consulting the Mandatory Reporter Guide and
their Child Wellbeing Unit if appropriate, and
responding to the vulnerabilities, risks and needs
of families, children and young people that they
identify . For example, the Health worker may
provide family support services and refer to
other services for additional family support .
The role and responsibilities of NSW Health
workers in the new approach to child protection
are outlined in the fact sheet that can be found
http://www0 .health .nsw .gov .au/policies/

In the ACT, health professionals must notify if they
believe on reasonable grounds that a child or young
person has experienced or is experiencing sexual
abuse or non-accidental physical injury (section
356, Children and Young People Act 2008 (ACT))
In the NT, any person must make a report if they
believe on reasonable grounds that a child of
any age has suffered or is likely to suffer harm or
exploitation, physical or sexual abuse, emotional/
psychological abuse, neglect, exposure to physical
violence (e .g . a child witnessing violence between
parents at home) (sections 15, 16 & 26, Care and
Protection of Children Act 2007 (NT)) .
In addition, a registered health professional must
report if they have reasonable grounds to believe
a child aged 14 or 15 has been, or is likely to be, a
victim of a sexual offence and the age difference
between the child and the offender is greater than
two years (section 26(2), Care and Protection of
Children Act 2007 (NT)) .
In Queensland, a doctor or registered nurse must
report if they become aware of, or develop a
reasonable suspicion of, harm or risk of harm due to
factors of physical, psychological/emotional abuse,
neglect, sexual abuse or exploitation (sections
191-192 & 158, Public Health Act 2005 (Qld)) .
In SA, doctors, pharmacists, registered or enrolled
nurses, dentists, psychologists, employees/volunteers in a government department, agency or
instrumentality, or local government agency that
provides health services wholly or partly for children
must report if they suspect or believe on reasonable grounds that a child has been or is being
emotionally/psychologically abused or neglected
(Children’s Protection Act 1993 (SA)) .

In Tasmania, registered medical practitioners,
nurses, midwives, dentists, dental therapists /
hygienists, registered psychologists and employees/
volunteers in a government department, agency
or instrumentality, or local government agency
that provides health services wholly or partly for
children must report knowledge, belief or suspicion
on reasonable grounds that a child has been or is
being abused or neglected or is an affected child
whose safety, psychological wellbeing or interests
are affected or likely to be affected by family
violence; or there is a reasonable likelihood of a
child being killed, sexually/physically/psychologically abused or neglected by a person with whom
the child resides (sections 3, 4 & 14, Children, Young
Persons and Their Families Act 1997 (TAS)) . 

In Victoria, registered medical practitioners ,
midwives or registered nurses must report a belief
on reasonable grounds that a child is in need of
protection because they have suffered, or are likely
to suffer, significant harm as a result of physical
injury, sexual abuse, emotional/psychological harm
and the child’s parents have not protected, or are
unlikely to protect, the child from harm of that type
or the child has been abandoned by their parents
or the parents can’t be found or are incapacitated
/dead and there is no-one else willing to take the
child (sections 182, 184 & 162, Children, Youth and
Families Act 2005 (Vic))
In WA, doctors, nurses and midwives must report
a belief on reasonable grounds that child sexual
abuse has occurred or is occurring (sections 124A
& 124B, Children and Community Services Act 2004
(WA)) .
In situations where a health practitioner does not
consider that the threshold of ‘risk of significant
harm’ is met, reporting is not mandatory . However,
voluntary reporting is provided for under the relevant
legislation (for example, in NSW, it is not mandatory
to make a report in relation to a young person aged
16 or 17) .
Under the relevant legislation, a health practitioner
is protected from civil or criminal liability (e .g .
breach of confidentiality litigation, professional
misconduct action, defamation proceedings) if they
make a report (whether voluntary or mandatory) in
good faith to the relevant child protection authority .
They are also protected from having their identity
disclosed to the extent that this is possible .
In NSW the legal framework for information exchange
allows organisations to share information relating
to the safety, welfare and wellbeing of children or
young people without consent .

 The safety, welfare
and wellbeing of children and young people is
considered paramount and takes precedence over
the protection of confidentiality or of an individual’s
privacy . While consent is not necessary, it should be
sought where possible . Organisations should at a
minimum advise children, young people and their
families that information may be shared with other

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