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Reporting child abuse to the police

In addition to the mandatory reporting requirements in the Care Act in relation to child protection reporting, there are provisions with the Crimes Act 1900 that relate to reporting child abuse to the police.

Subject to section 316A of the Crimes Act 1900, all adults in NSW who know, believe or reasonably ought to know that a child abuse offence has been committed, and fail to report the information to the police as soon as it is practicable, are guilty of an offence.

However, if you make a report to DCJ via the Helpline or CWU, your responsibility to make a report to the police is met. A person will not be guilty of an offence if they have a reasonable excuse for not reporting the information to police. This includes knowing or reasonably believing that:

  • The information has already been reported under mandatory reporting obligations, such as to the Child Protection Helpline, a CWU or to the Office of the Children’s Guardian under the Reportable Conduct Scheme, or the person believes on reasonable grounds that another person has reported it.
  • The information is already known to police.
  • The alleged victim is an adult at the time of providing the information and doesn’t want it reported to the police.
  • There are grounds to fear for their safety or another person’s safety if they report to police.

In addition, the person has a reasonable excuse for failing to notify the police if they were under 18 years of age when they obtained the information.

It is also an offence if an adult working in an organisation that engages adult workers in child related work knows another adult working there poses a serious risk of abusing a child, and they have the power to reduce or remove the risk by virtue of their position in the organisation and they negligently fail to do so (section 43B of the Crimes Act 1900).

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Last updated: 03 May 2021