Who are mandatory reporters?
Last published 21 Sep 2022
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 professional work or other paid employment, and those in management positions in these services:
- 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.
- Disability services – disability support workers and personal care workers.
On 1 March 2020, mandatory reporter groups in NSW expanded to also include:
- A person in religious ministry or a person providing religion based activities to children (e.g. minister of religion, priest, deacon, pastor, rabbi, Salvation Army officer, church elder, religious brother or sister)
- Registered psychologists providing a professional service as a psychologist to adults.
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 that 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.
Why have mandatory reporter groups been expanded?
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse made a recommendation outlining the groups of individuals who should be mandatory reporters in each state and territory. In order to comply with this recommendation, the NSW mandatory reporter groups have been expanded to include people in religious ministry, people providing religion-based activities to children and all registered psychologists.
For more information on these changes, see Child Protection Reporting: Overview of legislative amendments.
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. Chapter 16A 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 Care Act authorises the Department of Communities and Justice 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.