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Information needed to make a report

The detail and quality of the information provided to the Child Protection Helpline by the reporter is critical to the quality of the decision making that follows. It is important to provide all relevant information when making a child protection report.

  • Prepare for making a report to Helpline by gathering all the available information together. Note that reports must still be made where only a little information is known but there is risk of significant harm.
  • Sometimes you may not have all of this information. As a minimum, Family and Community Services needs to be able to identify and locate the child or young person. Information that assists this, such as the child or young person's school or childcare centre, is also helpful.
  • The kind of information which is useful includes risk of significant harm information, as well as information about the child or young person, the family, the reporter, and the context of the report.

Helpful information

If possible please have following information ready when making a report to the Child Protection Helpline:

Child or young person

  • name
  • date of birth or age
  • address
  • phone numbers
  • cultural identity or Aboriginality
  • language barriers
  • disabilities
  • school details
  • care arrangements, legal status.

Parents, carers or other household members

  • name
  • date of birth or age
  • address
  • phone numbers
  • cultural identity or Aboriginality
  • language barriers
  • disabilities.

Reporter details

  • name, agency address, phone and email details
  • position
  • reason for reporting today
  • nature of contact with child or family
  • nature of ongoing role with child or family, include frequency, duration and type
  • if report is being made by someone else in the agency, name of the agency worker who sourced the report.

Other information

  • information about parental risk factors and how they link to child’s risk of harm, such as domestic violence, alcohol or other drug use, unmanaged mental illness, intellectual or other disability
  • protective factors and family strengths
  • non-offending carers’ capacity to protect child
  • any previous suspicious death of a child or young person in the household?
  • is the parent or carer pregnant?
  • is the parent or carer the subject of an Apprehended Violence Order?
  • description of family structure, for example, biological parents, single parent, blended family
  • name, age, gender of siblings. Do siblings live with the child or young person? Services involved with child and family if known
  • principal language of family and whether an interpreter for a spoken or signed language is required
  • if parent knows of report and their response
  • if child or young person knows about the report and their views
  • information related to worker safety issues
  • outcome of Mandatory Reporter Guide.

Harm category

Physical abuse

  • description of injuries – type of injury and location on body
  • who caused the harm?
  • medical treatment required and/or administered?
  • how did the injury occur?
  • are the circumstances suspicious? Why?
  • details of any excessive discipline used
  • did the injury result from domestic violence?
  • does the child fear for their life or safety or the safety of the non-offending parent?
  • do credible threats to kill or injure the child exist?
  • is the parent or carer’s behaviour violent and/or out of control?

At-risk behaviour

  • homelessness – What are the current living arrangements? What are the risk factors?
  • are the whereabouts of the parents or carers known? Are they behaving protectively? How?
  • are the parents or carers able and willing to address the risk taking or serious self-harming behaviour?

Sexual abuse

  • provide details of disclosure in the child’s own words
  • when did the alleged abuse occur?
  • what was the context of the disclosure?
  • is there a witness?
  • is there medical evidence?
  • information on the alleged offender (age, name, etc)
  • is the language and/or behaviour of the child extremely sexualised? Is this uncharacteristic of their age?
  • are the sexual behaviours reflective of the age group?
  • does a highly suspected perpetrator of sexual abuse have access to the child?
  • does the child require immediate medical treatment and was it administered?
  • is the child extremely fearful of being in the home?
  • does the non-offending parent believe the child and are they supportive?

Pre-natal

  • are there any parental risk factors (substance abuse, mental health, disability, homelessness)?
  • are the parent or carer behaviours likely to seriously impact the child once it is born?
  • is there a birth alert with NSW Health?
  • is the anticipated due date within 14 days?

Neglect

  • has the child suffered an injury or illness as a direct result of neglectful behaviour by the parent or carer?
  • has the parent or carer failed to provide adequate supervision?
  • detailed description of child’s appearance
  • did hazardous conditions in the home result in the injury or illness?
  • describe any relevant household conditions and/or state of the home
  • did parent or carer fail to obtain necessary medical and/or mental health care?
  • was the child diagnosed with malnutrition?
  • are the parents or carers behaviours a factor in the child not attending school (educational neglect)? What actions has the school taken?
  • is there a substance exposed newborn? Have the parents made preparations for the infant?
  • is there a severe condition or pattern of parent or carer behaviour that presents an imminent risk?

Psychological harm

  • detailed information on the child’s emotional state. What have you observed?
  • do the child’s symptoms relate to a persistent pattern of parent or carer behaviour, such as domestic violence?
  • how does the parent or carer behave towards the child?

Once a report is made to the Child Protection Helpline no further report needs to be made unless new information comes to hand.

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Last updated: 10 Oct 2017
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