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Should I call to report a child at risk?

How to decide if you need to report a child who has been abused, neglected or is at significant risk of harm.

Making the report to the Child Protection Helpline

To report suspected child abuse or neglect, call the Child Protection Helpline on 132 111 (open 24 hours/7 days).

Helpful information needed for a Child Protection Helpline report includes:

  • full name, date of birth (or approximate age), address and phone number of the child or young person you are concerned about
  • full name (including any known aliases), approximate age, address and phone number of the parents or carers
  • a description of the child or young person and their current whereabouts
  • why you suspect the child or young person is at risk of significant harm (what you have seen, heard or been told)
  • whether a language or sign interpreter may be required, whether support is required for a person with a disability or an Aboriginal agency is involved
  • your name and contact details.

Sometimes you may not have all of this information. Family and Community Services (FACS) needs at least 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.

Anonymous reports

You can make an anonymous report, but it does mean we won't be able to contact you again to discuss what you've told us and we can't give you any feedback on your report. The identity of all reporters, mandatory or not, is confidential. Your identity, or any information that might reveal your identity, such as your address or workplace, can't be disclosed by anyone without your consent —  except on rare occasions, where information about the report is crucial to court proceedings.

Reporting a government or non-government agency (NGO) employee

Special procedures are in place to deal with allegations of reportable conduct or convictions against employees of all government and certain non-government agencies in NSW.

The Ombudsman Act 1974 requires these designated agencies to notify the Ombudsman of allegations against employees that constitute sexual offences, misconduct, assault, ill-treatment, neglect and behaviour that causes psychological harm to children.

There are two groups of people who are considered to be employees:

  • any employee of the agency, whether or not employed in connection with any work or activities of the agency that relate to children, and
  • any individual engaged by the agency to provide services to children.

This includes contractors, subcontractors, foster carers, volunteers and kinship carers where the Minister holds parental responsibility for a child in their care.

Some matters are notifiable to the Ombudsman as an allegation of reportable conduct, but are only reportable to the Child Protection Helpline if there are also current concerns that a child or young person is at risk of significant harm.

The responsibility for conducting investigations into allegations against employees lies with the employing agency. In some circumstances statutory agencies may undertake a parallel investigation for other purposes — such as assessing risk and care issues or conducting a criminal investigation.

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Last updated: 10 Oct 2017
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