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 reports that a child is believed to have suffered or likely to suffer significant harm as a result of abuse or neglect and their parent has not or is not likely to protect them from harm of that type
- Refer children and families to services in the community for ongoing support and harm prevention
- Make applications to the Children's Court as required
- Administer protection orders made by the Children’s Court.
Mandatory reporting of child abuse
The following professional groups are required to make a report to child protection where they form a reasonable belief, that a child has been or is at risk of significant harm, as a result of physical or sexual abuse, and the child’s parents have not protected or are unlikely to protect the child from that abuse:
- Registered medical practitioners
- Nurses including midwives
- Victorian police officers
- Registered teachers and school principals
- Out of home care workers (excluding voluntary foster and kinship carers)
- Early childhood workers
- Youth justice workers, and
- Registered psychologists.
As a mandated reporter, you are legally obliged to:
- Make a report to Child Protection if you believe on reasonable grounds that a child is in need of protection from physical injury or sexual abuse
- Make the report as soon as practicable after forming your belief
- Make a report each time you become aware of any further grounds for your belief.
Any person who believes on reasonable grounds that a child needs protection can make a report to Child Protection.
Child protection will decide when follow up is required and how to classify the report. This may mean providing advice to the reporter, progressing the matter to an investigation, or referring the family to support services in the community, or taking no further action.
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.