APPROACH: POLICY

MANDATORY REPORTING

MANDATORY REPORTING POLICY

Objective

To protect children and young people from abuse and neglect by ensuring Kamaruka Education Centre staff:

  • Understand mandatory reporting responsibilities and duty of care obligations to protect children and young people from child abuse including physical and sexual abuse;
  • Are aware of which employment categories are mandated notifiers;
     
  • Know how to make a mandatory report to the Department of Human Services (DHS) Child Protection when they have formed a belief on reasonable grounds that a child or young person is at risk of significant harm;
     
  • Are able to identify and be aware of the indicators of abuse;
     

See Related Documents
Flowchart: A step-by-step guide to making a report to Child Protection or Child FIRST.

Scope

Kamaruka Education Centre Principal, Teachers, support staff and volunteers, welfare and administration staff.

Legislation

Under Sections 182(1) a-e, 184 and 162 c-d of the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic.), the following persons are mandatory reporters for the purposes of this Act:

  • Registered medical practitioners,
     
  • Registered nurses,
     
  • Members of the police force,
     
  • Principals of government or non-government schools,
     
  • A person registered as a teacher under the Education, Training and Reform Act 2006 or teachers granted permission to teach under that Act.
     

Professionals not currently gazetted as being mandated notifiers but who are listed in section 182(1) of the Act for future gazettal include:

  • Registered psychologists,
  • The proprietors of children’s service centres, to whom Part XIA of the Health Act 1958 (Vic.) applies,
     
  • Employees of children’s service centres who have post-secondary qualifications in the care, education or minding of children,
     
  • Persons working as youth workers and welfare workers who work in the health, education, welfare or community service field,
     
  • Persons working as youth and child care officers for the Department of Human Services * Parole officers and probation officers.
     

Legislation in all jurisdictions except New South Wales requires mandatory reporting in relation to all young people up to the age of 18 (whether they use the terms “children” or “children and young people”).

Policy

As a mandated notifier:

  • You will not be legally obliged to report if you encounter abuse in your private life or when working in a capacity that is not directly related to the professional affiliation under which you are mandated.
  • You must make your report without unnecessary delay.
     
  • You are required to report each time you become aware of any further reasonable grounds for your belief.
     
  • You do not have to be able to prove that the abuse has occurred.
     
  • It is your personal responsibility to report your belief – it is not the responsibility of your supervisor, principal, senior or boss.
     
  • If you are one of a group of mandated notifiers who has formed a belief, based on reasonable grounds, that a child is in need of protection from physical or sexual abuse, then only one mandated notifier needs to make the report. However, you must be satisfied that the report was made promptly and that all of the reasonable grounds were included in the notification.
     
  • Your identity as a notifier will remain confidential under the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic.)
     

Kamaruka Education Centre staff should discuss any concerns about the safety and wellbeing of students with the principal or assistant principal, especially if they have a suspicion of possible abuse but have not formed a belief at that time. If the principal or assistant principal does not believe that a mandatory report is warranted, this does not discharge the teacher of their obligation to do so if they have formed a reasonable belief that abuse may have occurred.

Non-mandated staff members, who believe on reasonable grounds that a child is in need of protection, are encouraged to speak to the principal or assistant principal as well as being able to make a report to DHS Child Protection.

Staff who have concerns about a child or young person because they have been made aware of possible harm via their involvement in the community external to their professional role may make a (protective) report to DHS Child Protection.

Although only mandated notifiers have a legal responsibility to report child abuse, everyone has a moral and ethical responsibility to report all types of possible or known child abuse.

Concurrent Duty of Care

Quite apart from mandatory reporting requirements, a teacher has a concurrent duty of care to protect a student from harm that is reasonably foreseeable. A breach of this duty of care may lead to legal action being taken against the individual teacher or teachers concerned.

A breach of this duty of care will be established if a teacher or principal failed to take immediate and positive steps after having acquired actual knowledge or formed a belief that there is a risk that a child is being abused or neglected, including sexual abuse.

Types of Child Abuse and Indicators of Harm

Child abuse can have a significant effect on a child’s physical or emotional health, development and wellbeing. The younger a child is the more vulnerable they are and the more serious the consequences are likely to be. Types of child abuse include:

  • Physical

  • Sexual abuse

  • Emotional

  • Family Violence

  • Neglect

  • Female Genital Mutilation

  • Medical neglect

  • Risk-taking Behaviour.

There are many indicators of child abuse and neglect. The presence of a single indicator, or even several indicators, does not prove that abuse or neglect has occurred. However, the repeated occurrence of an indicator, or the occurrence of several indicators together, should alert teachers to the possibility of child abuse and neglect.
Teachers may observe:

  • one or several indicators are displayed;

  • indicators occur repeatedly;

  • changes in relation to the child’s behaviour;

See Related Documents: For full definitions for all of the types of child abuse and a comprehensive list of all of the indicators of harm, see Protecting the safety and wellbeing of children and young people.

Procedure

Making a Mandatory Report:
Who: Mandated staff: Principals, Primary and Secondary Teachers, School Nurses
Must Report to the Department of Human Services (DHS) Child Protection as soon as practicable after forming a belief on reasonable grounds that a child or young person is at risk of significant harm, and the child’s parents are unable or unwilling to protect the child.

Who: Non-mandated staff (section 183, CYFA 2005)
Any person who believes on reasonable grounds that a child is in need of protection may make a protective report regarding their concerns to DHS Child Protection. Staff, who forms a belief on reasonable grounds, should inform the principal or assistant principal of any concerns.
Who: All staff if they have formed a belief on reasonable grounds
A belief is formed when a person has:

  • More than a suspicion.

  • Is more likely to believe rather than disbelieve that a student is at risk.

If a staff member has unresolved suspicions that do not lead them to form a belief, they should initially consult with the principal or assistant principal. A referral to Child First may be appropriate to engage support for the family.

Kamaruka Education Centre will protect and support any child connected to the alleged child abuse, by:

  • ensuring they have access to School support personnel, such as the School Psychologist.

  • seeking procedural advice from Child First.

  • ensuring their situation is treated confidentially and with sensitivity.

  • ensuring they have all the necessary staff support around them and are given due consideration for and necessary adjustments in the curriculum and co-curriculum programs.

  • providing such other support or assistance as may be reasonable.

Reasonable grounds are established when:

  • a child or young person states that they have been physically or sexually abused;

  • a child or young person states that they know someone who has been physically or sexually abused (sometimes the child may be talking about themselves);

  • someone who knows the child or young person states that the child or young person has been physically or sexually abused;

  • a child shows signs of being physically or sexually abused;

  • the staff member is aware of persistent family violence or parental substance misuse; psychiatric illness or intellectual disability that is impacting on the child and young person’s safety, stability or development;

  • the staff member observes signs or indicators of abuse, including non-accidental or unexplained injury, persistent neglect, poor care or lack of appropriate supervision;

  • a child’s actions or behaviour may place them at risk of significant harm and the child’s parents are unwilling or unable to protect the child;

Who: Staff seeking consultation regarding making a Child First Referral
Consult with:

  • Specialist welfare staff, the principal or principal’s delegate;

  • DHS Child Protection Eastern Region; 1300 360 391; After office hours, call the Child Protection Crisis Line on 131278 (Vic only); Child First; 1300 369 146

A referral to Child FIRST is the best way of connecting children, young people and their families to the services they need. Staff should make a referral to Child First where staff have concerns about a child’s wellbeing but do not believe the child is in need of protection.

See Related Documents: A step-by-step guide to making a report to Child Protection or Child FIRST and Protecting the safety and wellbeing of children and young people.
Teacher and Management Actions
Teachers should:

  • only gather enough information to form the belief;

  • use open ended questions when talking to the student;

Teachers should not, under any circumstances:

  • conduct their own investigation;

  • interview witnesses;

  • take statements;

  • collect evidence;

  • ask leading questions that suggest the abuse took place;

  • conduct a physical examination;

Staff should keep comprehensive, chronologically ordered notes that describe the source of their concerns, e.g. from obvious injuries, behaviours or comments made outlining related events, actions taken and further considerations determine the need for help.
Notes should also reflect who the staff member has been in contact with.

Information required when making a report to Child Protection
The following information is required to make the report:

  • name of family and children;

  • addresses, language spoken and student’s date of birth;

  • factual and specific reason for concern;

  • the reporter’s involvement with the family;

  • any other people or agencies involved;

  • concerns about a child protection workers safety in visiting the family;

  • best time to find the parents/guardians at home;

  • if the family knows the report is being made.

Note:

An inability to provide all of this information should not delay the making of the report. Further information can be provided after the initial report is made.
Professional Protection for Reporters
Teachers and principals making mandatory reports: are protected against legal, professional and civil actions by the Child and Youth Families Act as long as they are acting:

  • In good faith;

  • For the best interests of the child;

  • Cannot be held to have acted unprofessionally.

Information Sharing
Teachers and principals making reports or providing information to Child Protection, Child FIRST and Victoria Police Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Teams (SOCIT) are specifically protected against legal, professional and civil actions by the CYFA provided they are “acting in good faith” in the interests of the child. Staff are allowed to share information with Child Protection that may help them to make an initial assessment
about a child. Any information that is relevant to the protection or development of a child when Child Protection is investigating a report, is allowed to be shared.

Related Documents

  • Child Safety Policy

  • Code of Conduct Policy

  • Student Welfare Policy

All policy documents are accessible on the Kamaruka website and are available for staff to view in each staff room. Copies are provided for parents with enrolment forms.

This policy was last ratified by the Kamaruka Advisory Committee on 11 September 2017