Reporting child abuse and neglect

Reporting child abuse and neglect

Information for service providers

CFCA Resource Sheet— October 2018
Reporting abuse and neglect

If you require assistance or if you would like to talk to a trained professional about the issues described in this resource sheet, please call Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.

If you believe a child is in immediate danger call the Police on 000.

Overview

This resource sheet provides information to service providers and practitioners working in the child, family and community welfare sector on how to report suspected child abuse and neglect. It defines child abuse and neglect, and provides contact details for the reporting authority in each state and territory.

Introduction

In Australia, state and territory governments are responsible for receiving reports of suspected child abuse and neglect from members of the public. Anyone who suspects, on reasonable grounds, that a child or young person1 is at risk of being abused and/or neglected should report it to the reporting authority in their state or territory.

Certain groups of people are required by law to report any suspicion of abuse or neglect of a child or young person to government authorities. Further information and guidelines regarding mandatory reporting can be found in the CFCA Resource Sheet: Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect.

If a child or young person has disclosed abuse or neglect to you, it is important to stay calm and reassure them that you will help them to be safe. For information on how to respond to disclosures of abuse, see the CFCA Practitioner Resource: Responding to Children and Young People’s Disclosures of Abuse.

Parents and other family members may disclose to you concerns about not coping with their parenting responsibilities. Listening and providing support and practical help is important, while assessing whether there is a child at risk of abuse or neglect. Contact details and links to helplines and telephone counselling services that provide information, counselling support and service referral can be found in the CFCA Resource Sheet: Helplines and Telephone Counselling Services for Children, Young People and Parents.

Defining child abuse and neglect

Child abuse and neglect refers to any behaviour or treatment by parents, caregivers, other adults or older adolescents that results in the actual and/or likelihood of causing physical or emotional harm to a child or young person. Such behaviours may be intentional or unintentional and can include acts of omission (i.e. neglect) and commission (i.e. abuse) (CFCA, 2018).

Child abuse and neglect is commonly divided into five subtypes:

  • physical abuse
  • emotional abuse
  • neglect
  • sexual abuse
  • exposure to family violence.

For further information, see the CFCA Resource Sheet: What is Child Abuse and Neglect?

Contact details for each state and territory

The tables below include the contact details of the reporting authority in each Australian state and territory.

Please note that you do not need to be absolutely certain that there has been abuse or neglect of a child or young person to contact these authorities. If you suspect a child is at risk of harm, you should call the authority to discuss your concerns, and they will decide whether an investigation is required.

In each state and territory, all serious concerns should be reported by phone rather than online or via email. Serious concerns include when you suspect a child or young person is in imminent or immediate danger of serious harm, serious injury or chronic neglect.

Australian Capital Territory

Reporting authority

Further services/information

Contact details

Child and Youth Protection Services

Child and Youth Protection Services is responsible for facilitating coordination across government for the care and protection of children and young people in the Australian Capital Territory.

If you are concerned about a child and want further information on mandatory reporting, refer to Keeping Children and Young People Safe.

Phone:
General public
Ph: 1300 556 729 (24 hours)

Mandated reporters
Ph: 1300 556 728 (24 hours)

Online:
For less serious concerns, complete an online child concern report.

Email:
For less serious concerns, contact Child Protection Reports.

New South Wales

Reporting authority

Further services/information

Contact details

Department of Family and Community Services

 

The Department of Family and Community Services is responsible for handling reports of child abuse and neglect in New South Wales. Information about the process of reporting child welfare concerns can be found on the department’s Reporting a Child at Risk webpage.

For information about mandatory reporting, refer to the Resources for mandatory reporters webpage.

Phone:
Child Protection Helpline
Ph: 13 21 11 (24 hours) (TTY 1800 212 936)

Online:
Mandatory reporters with less serious concerns can use eReporting.

Northern Territory

Reporting authority

Further services/information

Contact details

Territory Families

In the Northern Territory, every person is required to report suspected child abuse and neglect.

For further information about the process of reporting concerns about a child's welfare in the Northern Territory, refer to the Report Child Abuse page of the department's website.

Phone:
Child Abuse Hotline
Ph: 1800 700 250 (24 hours)

Queensland

Reporting authority

Further services/information

Contact details

Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women

Child Safety is the lead child protection agency in Queensland. For information about the process of reporting concerns about a child's welfare in Queensland, refer to the Protecting Children webpage of the department's website.

For more information about mandatory reporting, refer to the Mandatory reporting in Queensland webpage.

Phone:
For a list of contact numbers during business hours, go to: Regional Intake Services.

Child Safety After Hours Service Centre
Ph: 1800 177 135 or (07) 3235 9999.

South Australia

Reporting authority

Further services/information

Contact details

Department for Child Protection

The Department for Child Protection works to keep South Australia's children safe by protecting them from abuse and neglect.

For information about the process of reporting concerns about a child's welfare in South Australia, refer to the department’s Report Child Abuse webpage.

The Department for Child Protection provides additional information for mandatory reporting, including Mandated Notifiers and Their Role and Preparing to Report Child Abuse.

Phone:
Child Abuse Report Line
Ph: 13 14 78 (24 hours)

Online:
Less serious concerns can also be reported online.

Tasmania

Reporting authority

Further services/information

Contact details

Department of Health and Human Services

The role of the Child Safety Service is to protect children and young people who are at risk of abuse and neglect in Tasmania.

For information about the process of reporting concerns about a child's welfare in Tasmania, refer to the department’s Child Safety Service webpage.

Information about mandatory reporting and making a notification can be found on the department’s Child safety notifications webpage.

Phone:
Child Safety Service
1300 737 639 (24 hours)

Online:
Mandatory reporters with less serious concerns can report online.

Victoria

Reporting authority

Further services/information

Contact details

Department of Health and Human Services

The Child Protection Service is specifically targeted to those children and young people at risk of significant harm in Victoria.

For information about child protection and mandatory reporting requirements in Victoria, refer to the department’s Child Protection webpage.

Phone:
For a list of regional and metropolitan phone numbers: Child Protection Contacts

After hours child protection emergency service
Ph: 13 12 78

Western Australia

Reporting authority

Further services/information

Contact details

Department of Communities, Child Protection and Family Support 

The Department of Communities, Child Protection and Family Support offers a range of services to support children and families in Western Australia.

For further information about the process of reporting concerns about a child's welfare, refer to the department’s If You are Concerned About a Child webpage.

Information about mandatory reporting in Western Australia can be found on the department's mandatory reporting information webpage.

Phone:
Central Intake Team
Ph: 1800 273 889

After hours
Ph: (08) 9223 1111 or Country Freecall: 1800 199 008

Online:
Mandatory reporters with less serious concerns can use the department's secure Mandatory Reporting Web System

Written:
Mandatory reporters with less serious concerns can also complete a Mandatory Reporting Form

References

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). (2018). Child protection Australia 2016–2017 (Vol. cat. no. CWS 63). Canberra: AIHW.

Child Family Community Australia (CFCA). (2018). What is child abuse and neglect? (CFCA Resource Sheet). Melbourne: Australian Institute of Family Studies. Retrieved from aifs.gov.au/cfca/publications/what-child-abuse-and-neglect

1 In Australia, a child is defined as any human under the age of 18 years (AIHW, 2018).

Authors and Acknowledgements

This resource sheet was updated by Nick Heyes, Senior Project Officer with the Child Family Community Australia information exchange at the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Previous editions of this resource sheet were compiled by Will Douglas, Lucy Ockenden, Kathryn Goldsworthy, Rose Babic, Shaun Lohoar, Kate Rosier and Debbie Scott.

The feature image is by Jessica, CC BY-NC 2.0.

Publication details

CFCA Resource Sheet
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, October 2018.
Last updated October 2018

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