Child Protection provides child-centred, family-focused services to protect children and young people from significant harm caused by abuse or neglect within the family.
It also aims to ensure that children and young people receive ongoing support to deal with the affect of abuse and neglect on their wellbeing and development.
The role of the Child Protection service is to:
- Receive reports from people who believe a child needs protection from abuse or neglect
- Provide advice to people who report cases of abuse or neglect
- Investigate when a child is believed to have been abused, or is at risk of abuse or neglect
- Refer children and families to services in the community for ongoing support and harm prevention
- Take matters to the Children's Court if a child's safety within a family cannot be guaranteed
- Supervise children on legal orders granted by the Children’s Court.
Mandatory reporting of child abuse
Some professionals are legally obliged to report suspected child abuse such as:
- School teachers.
In addition, any person who believes on reasonable grounds that a child needs protection can make a report to the Victorian Child Protection Service. It is the Child Protection worker's job to assess and, where necessary, further investigate if a child or young person is at risk of significant harm.
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 law now 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 this information to police. This law applies to all adults in Victoria, not just professionals who work with children, unless they have a reasonable excuse.
Further information about this offence and how to report it, can be found on Criminal offences to improve responses to child sexual abuse.
Information sharing guidelines
Sharing information is important because effective service provision relies upon all relevant information being available. In addition, the most vulnerable families often need assistance from more than one agency, and information needs to be shared for these agencies to work effectively together.
For more information, see Sharing information guidelines.
Changes to child protection law
On Tuesday, 2 September 2014, the Victorian Parliament passed new laws that will strengthen the Victorian Government’s response to children and young people in out-of-home care.
These are important changes for children in out-of-home care, their parents and carers, and the services that support them.
For a detailed overview of changes to the law that will support more timely decision-making and permanency for children, see Changes to child protection law.
Case review or consultation requests can be made when there are serious concerns and specialist input is required to inform decision making.
For more information, see 'Office of Professional Practice' on Program support and overseeing bodies in our corporate website.