This policy was last reviewed in: 2017
1. STATEMENT OF BELIEF: A broad range of professional groups are identified in the Children Youth and Families Act 2005 (CYFA) as mandatory reporters.
Mandated staff members must make a report to Child Protection as soon as practicable after forming a belief on reasonable grounds that a child or young person is in need of protection from significant harm as a result of physical, psychological, sexual injury or abuse, and the child’s parents are unable or unwilling to protect the child. The following professionals are prescribed as mandatory reporters under section 182 of the CYFA: • primary and secondary school teachers and principals (including students in training to become teachers) • registered medical practitioners (including psychiatrists) • nurses (including school nurses) • police.
Non-mandated staff members Section 183 of the CYFA states that any person, who believes on reasonable grounds that a child is in need of protection, may report their concerns to Child Protection. This means that any person, including non-mandated school staff, is able to make a report to Child Protection when they believe that a child or young person is at risk of harm and in need of protection, and the child’s parents are unable or unwilling to protect the child.
2. OBJECTIVES: Forming a belief on reasonable grounds
A person may form a belief on reasonable grounds that a child is in need of protection after becoming aware that a child or young person’s health, safety or wellbeing is at risk and the child’s parents are unwilling or unable to protect the child. There may be reasonable grounds for forming such a belief if:
• a child or young person states that they have been physically, psychologically or sexually abused
• a child or young person states that they know someone who has been physically. psychologically 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, psychologically or sexually abused
• a child shows signs of being physically, psychologically 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 or 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.
Reporting a belief Staff members, whether or not mandated, need to report their belief when the belief is formed in the course of undertaking their professional duties. A report must be made as soon as practicable after forming the belief and on each occasion on which they become aware of any further reasonable grounds for the belief.
3. Protecting the identity of the reporter
Confidentiality is provided for reporters under the CYFA. The CYFA prevents disclosure of the name or any information likely to lead to the identification of a person who has made a report in accordance with legislation, except in specific circumstances. The identity of a reporter must remain confidential unless:
• the reporter chooses to inform the child, young person or family of the report
• the reporter consents in writing to their identity being disclosed
• a court or tribunal decides that it is necessary for the identity of the reporter to be disclosed to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the child
• a court or tribunal decides that, in the interests of justice, the reporter is required to attend court to provide evidence. Information provided during a protective investigation may be used in a court report if the risks to the child or young person require the case to proceed to court. In these circumstances, the source of the information may be required to provide evidence to the court. If Child Protection decides that the report is about a significant concern for the wellbeing of a child, they may refer the report to a community-based child and family service and disclose the identity of the reporter to that service. However, the CYFA provides that neither Child Protection nor the community-based child and family service may disclose the reporter’s identity to any other person without the reporter’s consent. Professional protection for reporters If a report is made in good faith:
• it does not constitute unprofessional conduct or a breach of professional ethics on the part of the reporter
• the reporter cannot be held legally liable in respect of the report. This means that a person who makes a report in accordance with the legislation will not be held liable for the eventual outcome of any investigation of the report.
4. Failure to report
A failure by mandated professionals and staff members to report a reasonable belief that a child is in need of protection from significant harm as a result of physical, psychological or sexual abuse may result in the person being prosecuted and a court imposing a fine under the CYFA. Making a report to Child Protection
The CYFA allows for two types of reports to be made in relation to significant concerns for the safety or wellbeing of a child – a report to Child Protection or a referral to Child FIRST. A report to Child Protection should be considered if, after taking into account all of the available information, the staff member forms a view that the child or young person is in need of protection because:
• the harm or risk of harm has a serious impact on the child’s immediate safety, stability or development
• the harm or risk of harm is persistent and entrenched and is likely to have a serious impact on the child’s safety, stability or development
• the child’s parents cannot or will not protect the child or young person from harm.
Where during the course of carrying out their normal duties, a staff member forms the belief on reasonable grounds that a child is in need of protection, the staff member must make a report to Child Protection regarding this belief and the reasonable grounds for it as soon as practicable.
5. POLICY – MANDATORY REPORTING
This policy was last reviewed : 2017
Staff members may form a professional judgement or belief, in the course of undertaking their professional duties based on:
• warning signs or indicators of harm that have been observed or inferred from information about the child
• legal requirements, such as mandatory reporting
• knowledge of child and adolescent development
• consultation with colleagues and other professionals
• professional obligations and duty-of-care responsibilities
• established protocols
Upon receipt of a report, Child Protection may seek further information, usually from professionals who may also be involved with the child or family, to determine whether further action is required. In most circumstances, Child Protection will inform the reporter of the outcome of the report. When the report is classified by Child Protection as a Wellbeing Report, Child Protection will, in turn, make a referral to Child FIRST. Any person who is registered as a teacher under the Education and Training Reform Act 2006, or any person who has been granted permission to teach under that Act, including principals, is mandated to make a report to Child Protection. In the course of undertaking their professional duties, mandated staff members are required to report their belief, when the belief is formed on reasonable grounds, that a child is in need of protection from significant harm as a result of sexual abuse or physical, psychological injury. Policy and procedures stipulate how teaching staff fulfil their duty of care towards children and young people in their school
IMPLEMENTATION: The role of staff. Staff have a duty of care to protect and preserve the safety, health and wellbeing of children and young people in their care and staff must always act in the best interests of those children and young people. If a staff member has any concerns regarding the health, safety or wellbeing of a child or young person it is important to take immediate action. Note: The role of investigating an allegation of child abuse rests solely with Child Protection and/or Victoria Police. The roles and responsibilities of staff in supporting children and young people who are involved with Child Protection may include acting as a support person for students, attending Child Protection case plan meetings, observing and monitoring students’ behaviour, and liaising with professionals.
Confidentiality POLICY – MANDATORY REPORTING
This policy was last reviewed in: 2017 Staff must respect confidentiality when dealing with a case of suspected child abuse and neglect, and may discuss case details and the identity of the child or the young person and their family only with those involved in managing the situation.
Updates will take place annually as part of the Performance and Development of the school.
POLICY – MANDATORY REPORTING
This policy was last reviewed in: 2017
: REFERENCES: http://www.education.vic.gov.au/school/principals/health/Pages/childprotection.aspx http://www.dhs.vic.gov.au/for-individuals/children,-families-and-young-people/child-protection/protecting-childrentogether http://www.dhs.vic.gov.au/for-service-providers/children%2c-youth-and-families/child-protection/specialist-practiceresources-for-child-protection-workers/child-development-and-trauma-specialist-practice-resource http://www.dhs.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/586465/information-guide-registered-teachers-principals.pdf http://www.dhs.vic.gov.au/for-individuals/children,-families-and-young-people/child-protection/about-child-abuse