Reporting a concern to Child Protection initially involves considering various factors within a child's family life that may be adversely impacting them.
When to make a report
A report to Child Protection should be considered if, after examining the available information, you believe the concerns currently have a serious impact on the child's immediate safety, stability or development. Also if the concerns are entrenched and likely to have a serious impact on the child's development.
A report to Child Protection should be made in any of the following circumstances:
- Physical abuse of, or non-accidental or unexplained injury to, a child (mandatory reporters must report)
- A disclosure of sexual abuse by a child or witness, or a combination of factors suggesting the likelihood of sexual abuse – the child exhibiting concerning behaviours e.g. after the child's mother takes on a new partner or where a known or suspected perpetrator has unsupervised contact with the child (mandatory reporters must notify)
- Emotional abuse and ill treatment of a child – impacting on the child's stability and healthy development
- Persistant neglect, poor care or lack of appropriate supervision – where there is a likelihood of significant harm to the child, or the child's stability and development
- Persistant family violence or parental substance misuse, psychiatric illness or intellectual disability – where there is a likelihood of significant harm to the child, or the child's stability and development
- Where a child's actions or behaviour may place them at risk of significant harm and the parents are unwilling, or unable to protect the child
- Where a child appears to have been abandoned, or where the child's parents are dead or incapacitated and no other person is caring properly for the child.
Many cases will not fit neatly into these categories, so the following questions may help you decide on the best course of action.
Other factors to consider
- What specifically has happened to the child that has caused your concerns and what is the impact on their safety, stability, health, wellbeing and development?
- How vulnerable is the child?
- Is there a history or pattern of significant concerns with this child or other children in the family?
- Are the parents aware of the concerns, capable and willing to take action to ensure the child's safety and stability, and promote the child's health, wellbeing and development?
How to make a report
- To report concerns that are life threatening, call Victoria Police 000
- To report concerns about the immediate safety of a child within their family unit, call the Child Protection Crisis Line 13 12 78 (24 hours, 7 days a week, toll free within Victoria) Note: this is an emergency service for weekends and after hours only and will pass on cases to the relevant regions the following working day
- For general information, contact a local Child Protection office.
What happens once a report is made?
Once a report is received, Child Protection will seek further information. This will usually be from professionals who may also be involved with the child or family. In determining what action to take, Child Protection will also consider any previous concerns that may have been reported about the child or young person.
In most circumstances, Child Protection will inform you of the outcome of your report.
Failure to disclose child sexual abuse offence
A new offence for failure to disclose child sexual abuse came into effect on 27 October 2014. The offence requires that any adult who holds a reasonable belief that a sexual offence has been committed in Victoria by an adult against a child (aged under 16) disclose that information to police. The offence applies to all adults in Victoria, not just professionals who work with children, unless they have a reasonable excuse.
For more information, see Criminal offences to improve responses to child sex abuse
More information for professionals working with vulnerable children
Child FIRST teams provide a consolidated intake service to family services within sub regional catchments. These arrangements reflect the provisions in the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 that commenced in April 2007.
A key objective of the legislation is to create an integrated service system that provides improved supports to vulnerable children, young people and their families. The legislation also introduces a range of new reporting and referral arrangements that will replace what is currently known as a child protection notification.