New South Wales
Community Services (formerly Department of Community Services) is responsible for overseeing and upholding child protection in NSW. Numerous Acts (laws) help to govern and guide the process of child protection in the NSW. The acts include:
Other relevant Acts:
- Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Amendment (Parental Responsibility Contracts) Act 2006
- Child Protection (Offenders Registration) Act 2000
- Crimes Act 1900
- Commission for Children and Young People Act 1998
- The Ombudsman Act 1974
- Family Law Act 1975 (Cth)
Reporting Child Abuse
What is reportable?
Outcomes or actions from which children are in need of protection include; neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, domestic violence and psychological harm. These are all reportable offences.
What are reasonable grounds?
You do not need to have proof to report any concerns you have about the safety of a child under 16 or a young person. Indicators that represent reasonable grounds to report a suspected offence include:
- A child or young person discloses that he or she has suffered or is suffering non accidental physical injury or sexual abuse
- Someone else advises you that a child or young person has been sexually abused or non-accidentally injured, or
- Your own observations of the child or young person’s physical condition or behaviours lead you to reasonably suspect that the child or young person has suffered or is suffering non-accidental physical injury or sexual abuse.
Can anyone report concerns for the safety of a child or young person?
ANY person who believes, on reasonable grounds, that a child is in need of protection may voluntarily report to Child Protection Services.
- You do not have to prove that abuse has taken place. You only need reasonable grounds for your belief.
- You do not need permission from parents or caregivers to make a report; nor do they need to be informed that a report is being made.
- If you made a report in good faith, you cannot be held legally liable - regardless of the outcome of the report.
- Your identity will remain confidential unless you need to give evidence if the matter goes to court. It is rare that this happens.
What is mandatory reporting?
Mandatory reporting describes the legal obligation of certain professionals and community members to report incidences of child abuse. These people are called "mandated reporters" and they MUST report to Child Protection Services if they believe on reasonable grounds that a child is in need of protection. Penalties may apply to mandated reporters who fail to report suspected abuse.
Who is mandated to report suspected abuse?
Section 27(1) of the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 states mandatory reporting applies to:
- a person who, in the course of his or her professional work or other paid employment delivers health care, welfare, education, children’s services, residential services, or law enforcement, wholly or partly to children, and
- a person who holds a management position in an organisation the duties of which include direct responsibility for, or direct supervision of, the provision of health care, welfare, education, children's services, residential services, or law enforcement, wholly or partly, to children.
Section 27(2) states if:
- a person who is mandated has reasonable grounds to suspect that a child is at risk of harm, and
- those grounds arise during the course of or from the person's work,
The person must, as soon as practicable, report to the Director-General the name, or a description, of the child and the grounds for suspecting that the child is at risk of significant harm.
From 24 January 2010, mandatory reporters are encouraged to use the Mandatory Reporter Guide, to guide their decision making and determine whether or not to report to the Child Protection Helpline under the new risk of significant harm reporting threshold. The interactive online Mandatory Reporter Guide has been developed to assist front-line mandatory reporters such as police officers, teachers, nurses, social workers, and NGO staff to determine whether a case meets the new risk of significant harm threshold for reporting children and young people at risk in NSW. A PDF version of the Guide is also available for those without internet access.
For more information on mandatory reporting of all state and territories go to http://www.aifs.gov.au/nch/pubs/sheets/rs3/rs3.html
Who to report to and how
If you need to report an offence that requires immediate police attention, please call
If you suspect on reasonable grounds that a child is suffering abuse or neglect or you wish to discuss your concerns about a child or young person, you should telephone:
Child Protection Helpline on 132 111 or 1800 212 936
This hotline operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
For more information on child protection policies and procedures in NSW, visit the Community Services website.
There are also Support Services across NSW that can assist and advise you through the process of making a report, and beyond.
- Child Protection Services & Police
- Legal Services
- Sexual Assault Services
- Domestic Violence
- Men's Services
Child Protection Services & Police
Community Services Child Protection Helpline (24 hours) 132 111
Community Services Family Information Services 1800 725 631
Commission for Children and Young People 02 9286 7276
New South Wales Police Service 1300 138 118 www.police.nsw.gov.au
Child Protection Sexual Crimes Police Squad 02 8835 8666
Online offences 02 8835 8672 www.police.nsw.gov.au/community_issues/children
Child Abuse Prevention Services 1800 688 009
Aboriginal Children's Services (24 Hours) 02 9698 2222
NSW Ombudsman 02 9286 1000 or 1800 451 524
Royal North Shore Hospital
St Leonards: Sexual assault service 02 9926 7580 www.nscchealth.nsw.gov.au
Royal Prince Alfred Hospital
Camperdown: Sexual assault service 02 9515 6111 www.cs.nsw.gov.au/rpa
St George Hospital
Kogarah: Sexual assault service 02 9350 2494 www.sesahs.nsw.gov.au
Sydney Children's Hospital:
Child Protection Unit 02 9382 1412 www.sch.edu.au
Women's Legal Resource Centre 1800 801 501 or 02 9749 5533 (Sydney)
Legal Aid NSW 1300 888 529 www.legalaid.nsw.gov.au
LawAcess Online www.lawaccess.nsw.gov.au
National Association of Community Legal Centres www.naclc.org.au
Justice Journey www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au
An online pathway through the NSW court system for victims and other witnesses. The information although specific to NSW is useful wherever you are in Australia. The site can help by giving you information about the legal process and letting you know what to expect in court. It is a child and parent friendly resource.
Australian Institute of Criminology www.aic.gov.au
Sexual Assault Services
See the NSW Listing of Sexual Assault Centres
Rape Crisis Centre (24 Hours) 02 9819 6565 or 1800 424 017 (rural NSW)
Sexual Assault Services
Royal North Shore 02 9926 7111 Wollongong 042 201 408
Tamworth 1800 424 017
New Street Adolescent Services (North Parramatta) - An early intervention program for young people who have sexually abused. www.wsahs.nsw.gov.au/services/newstreet/ Tel: 02 9840 4088
A list of registered counsellors and services for sex offenders can be found on http://www.kids.nsw.gov.au/kids/check/offendercounsellors/csocasmembers.cfm
Lismore Child and Adolescent Sexual Assault Counselling Service 02 6621 9861 or 02 6621 8000
Parentline NSW (Centacare) 13 20 55
Tresillian Parent Helpline 1800 637 357 www.tresillian.net
Relationships Australia 1800 654 648
Lifeline (24 Hours) 13 11 14
Kids Helpline (24 Hours) 1800 55 1800
Dympna House 1800 654 119 or 02 9797 6733 www.dympnahouse.asn.au
Salvo Care Line 1300 36 36 22 www.salvos.org.au
where child sexual assault services are unable to see due to lack of a formal disclosure
Cara Counselling (private counselling, child sexual abuse) 02 87650261
Mary Jo McVeigh
Private practice, Concord. Tel: 02 8765 0261
Arc I Allison Rodger Consulting
Gail Johnston Counselling Psychologist
Direct Therapeutic Work for children, adolescents, adults and families (Medicare rebate available with a referral from a General Practitioner).
Group Work services for children and adolescents. Groupwork services can be written to cater for specific target groups (Medicare rebate available with a referral from a General Practitioner).
Domestic Violence Line (24 Hours) 1800 656 463
Men's ServicesMensline Australia 1300 78 99 78 www.menslineaus.org.au