Reporting and responding to child wellbeing and safety concerns
Protecting children from harm is a responsibility shared by everyone in the community. Making a report about suspected child abuse or neglect is an important part of this responsibility.
Who are mandatory reporters?
In NSW, mandatory reporting obligations apply to those who deliver the following services wholly or partly to children as part of their professional work or other paid employment. It also includes those in management positions in organisations that deliver these services:
- Health care (e.g. medical practitioners, specialists, nurses, midwives, occupational therapists, speech therapists, psychologists, dentists and other allied health professionals, whether employed privately or by NSW Health)
- Welfare (e.g. social workers, casework practitioners or refuge workers)
- Education staff (e.g. teachers, counsellors or principals)
- Disability (e.g. disability support workers and personal care workers)
- Children’s services (e.g. child care workers and family day care)
- Residential services
- Law enforcement (e.g. police).
People in religious ministry, people who provide religion-based activities to children and registered psychologists are also mandatory reporters.
When are mandatory reporters required to make a report?
A mandatory reporter must make a report when they have reasonable grounds to suspect that a child is at ROSH and those grounds arise in the course of, or from, their work or role. A mandatory reporter has a duty to report, as soon as practicable, the name or a description of the child, and the grounds for suspecting that the child is at ROSH.
It is important to note that mandatory reporting requirements only relate to children, not young people.
The Mandatory Reporter Guide (MRG)
The online MRG assists mandatory reporters to:
- Determine whether a report to the Helpline or CWU is needed for concerns about possible abuse or neglect of a child or young person.
- Identify alternative ways to support vulnerable children and their families, where a mandatory reporter’s response is better served outside the statutory child protection system.
Applying the MRG before making a report, including referring to the definitions, helps users to identify the key information to include in their report, and to report only matters where ROSH is suspected. Mandatory reporters should complete the MRG, referring to the definitions on each occasion they have risk concerns, regardless of their level of experience or expertise. Each circumstance is different and every child is unique.
After selecting a decision tree representing the risk type that best represents the concern for the child/young person, mandatory reporters are asked a series of questions. At the end, a decision report is provided outlining what to do next. The MRG outcome options are:
- Immediate report to the Helpline - Call 132 111 (you cannot e-Report for this MRG decision)
- Report to the Helpline (in the next 24 hours)
- Refer to CWU or consult with a service/professional
- Document and continue relationship/monitor.
Consult with your CWU, if you have access to one, at any time during completion of the online MRG.
Mandatory reporters are encouraged to complete the MRG for more than one harm type, particularly when they have more than one significant concern.
Where the MRG indicates the level of risk does not warrant a report, the MRG assists mandatory reporters to respond appropriately to children by providing guidance on other possible options to assist the child and their family.