The Department for Families and Communities is responsible for overseeing and upholding child protection in South Australia. Numerous Acts (laws) help to govern and guide the process of child protection in South Australia. These acts include:
- Children's Protection Act 1993 (as amended in 2006)
Other relevant Acts/Legislation:
- Young Offenders Act 1994
- Adoption Act 1988
- Family Law Act 1975
- Family and Community Services Act 1972
For more information on the legislative context of child protection in South Australia, visit the Protecting Children section of Department for Families and Communities website.
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 11(1) of the Children's Protection Act 1993 (as amended in 2006) states:
If a person suspects on reasonable grounds that a child has been or is being abused or neglected and the suspicion is formed in the course of the person's work (whether paid or voluntary) or of carrying out official duties, the person must notify the Department of that suspicion as soon as practicable after he or she forms the suspicion.
Section 11 (2) requires the following persons to notify the Department of abuse and neglect which includes:
- a medical practitioner;
- a pharmacist;
- a registered or enrolled nurse;
- a dentist;
- a psychologist;
- police officer
- a community corrections officer (an officer or employee of an administrative unit of the Public Service whose duties include the supervision of young or adult offenders in the community)
- · a social worker;
- · a minister of religion;
- a person who is an employee of, or volunteer in, an organisation
formed for religious or spiritual purposes;
- a teacher in an educational institution (including a kindergarten);
- an approved family day care provider;
- any other person who is an employee of, or volunteer in, a Government
department, agency or instrumentality, or a local government or, non-government organisation that provides health, welfare, education, sporting or recreational, child care or residential services wholly or partly for children, being a person who –
- engaged in the actual delivery of those services to children; or
- holds a management position in the relevant organisation the duties of which include direct responsibility for, or direct supervision of, the provision of those services to children.
A notification under this section must be accompanied by a statement of the observations, information and opinions on which the suspicion is based.
This section does not require a priest or other minister of religion to divulge information communicated in the course of a confession made in accordance with the rules and usages of the relevant religion.
A person does not necessarily exhaust his or her duty of care to a child by giving a notification under this section.
Note: Under the law you are only mandated within your professional context. In relation to your experiences after hours you have no mandate to report, however, you may consider that you have an ethical duty to do so.
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 Abuse Report Line: 131 478
The more details you have and are able to disclose about the abuse, the easier it will be for the abuse to be investigated. Although, if you don't have many details, you are still encouraged to call the Child Abuse Report Line. The operator will likely ask you for your name and contact details, primarily so that they can contact you again in the future to clarify details or ask further questions. It is your right however, to report anonymously if you wish. For further details see child protection section of the Department of Families and Communities website.
There are also Support Services across SA that can assist and advise you through the process of making a report, and beyond.
Support Services Directory
- Child Protection Services & Police
- Legal Services
- Sexual Assault Services
- Domestic Violence
- Men's Services
Child Protection Services & Police
Child Abuse Report Line 13 14 78
Department for Families and Communities 08 8124 4078 or 131 478
South Australia Police 08 8207 5000
Child Exploitation Investigation: Section Sexual Crime Investigation Branch
(Adelaide) 08 8207 5888
National Crime Prevention: Sexual Assault Services
Adelaide: 08 8226 8787 (24 Hours)
Country SA: 1800 817 421 (24 Hours)
Department of Human Services 08 8226 6815
After Hours Crisis Service 13 61 11
Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service 08 8252 0133
Royal Adelaide Hospital 08 8222 5442 www.rah.sa.gov.au
Women's and Children's Hospital 08 8161 7000 www.wch.sa.gov.au
Women's Legal Service 08 8221 5553
Legal Services Commission of South Australia (Legal Aid) 1300 366 424
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
Women's Health State wide 08 8239 9600 or 1800 182 098 www.whs.sa.gov.au
Parent Helpline 1300 364 100 www.parenting.sa.gov.au
Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 www.kidshelp.com.au
Lifeline 13 11 14 www.lifeline.org.au
Relationships Australia 1300 364 277 www.relationships.com.au
Sexual Assault Services
Adelaide Rape Crisis Centre (Yarrow Place) 08 8226 8777 or AH: 08 8226 8787 Toll Free 24hr: 1800 817 421 www.yarrowplace.sa.gov.au
Domestic Violence Helpline 1800 800 098
Domestic Violence Crisis Service 1300 782 200 or 131 611
Mensline Australia 1300 78 99 www.menslineaus.org.au
Men's Information and Support Centre www.misc.com.au