Who are mandatory reporters?
Mandatory reporters are required by law to report suspected child abuse and neglect to government authorities. Mandatory reporters are people who deliver the following services, wholly or partly, to children as part of their paid or professional work:
- Health care — registered medical practitioners, specialists, enrolled and registered nurses, registered midwives, occupational therapists, speech pathologists, psychologists, dentists and other allied health professionals working in sole practice or in public or private health practices.
- Welfare — registered psychologists, social workers, caseworkers and youth workers.
- Education — teachers, counsellors, principals.
- Children’s services — child care workers, family day carers and home-based carers.
- Residential services — refuge workers, community housing providers.
- Law enforcement — police.
In NSW, mandatory reporting is regulated by the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 (the Care Act) and mandatory reporters are guided by the NSW Mandatory Reporter Guide.
Professional judgement should be used in deciding whether concerns about the safety, welfare or wellbeing of an unborn child or a young person warrant a report to the Child Protection Helpline.
Legislation requires mandatory reporters continue to respond to the needs of the child or young person, within the terms of their work role, even after a report to the Child Protection Helpline has been made (s.29A of the Care Act)
There are now a variety of ways you can make a report to the Child Protection Helpline if you suspect risk of significant harm.
Chapter 16A of the NSW Children and Young Person (Care and Protection) Act 1998 provides for the exchange of information and cooperation between prescribed bodies, if the information relates to the safety, welfare or wellbeing of a child or young person.
This takes precedence over other legislation regulating information disclosure, such as the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 and Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002. This provision promotes coordination and collaboration between agencies and workers, respecting individual functions and expertise, so that children and families receive timely assistance.
Section 248 of the Act authorises Family and Community Services to provide information about the safety, welfare or wellbeing of a child or young person to other child protection agencies.
For more information, see Exchanging information related to child protection and wellbeing