STA Standard 5

Child Protection – Reporting Obligations
Introduction
Protection for children and young people is based upon the belief that each person is made in the
image and likeness of God and that the inherent dignity of all should be recognised and fostered.
Catholic schools are entrusted with the holistic education of the child in partnership with parents,
guardians and caregivers, who are the primary educators of their children. Catholic school staff
therefore have a duty of care to students by taking reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which
they can reasonably foresee would be likely to result in harm or injury to the student and to work for the
positive wellbeing of the child
Under the National Framework for Protecting Australia's Children 2009–2020, protecting children is
everyone’s responsibility – parents, communities, governments and business all have a role to play. In
Victoria, a joint protocol, Protecting the safety and wellbeing of children and young people, involving the
Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Child Protection, the Department of Education and
Training (DET), the Catholic Education Commission of Victoria and licensed children’s services, exists to
protect the safety and wellbeing of children and young people.
All teachers, other staff, parish priests, canonical and religious order administrators of Catholic
schools within Victoria must understand and abide by the professional, moral and legal obligations to
implement child protection and child safety policies, protocols and practices.
Purpose of this policy
Schools must comply with the legal obligations that relate to managing the risk of child abuse under
the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic.), the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic.) and the recommendations
of the Betrayal of Trust Report.
This policy is designed to assist staff to:
• identify the indicators of a child or young person who may be in need of protection
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• understand how a ‘reasonable belief’ is formed
• make a report of a child or young person who may be in need of protection
• comply with mandatory reporting obligations under child protection law and their legal obligations
relating to criminal child abuse and grooming under criminal law.
Child Protection reporting obligations fall under separate pieces of legislation with differing reporting
requirements. This policy sets out the actions required under the relevant legislation when there is a
reasonable belief that a child is in need of protection or a criminal offence has been committed and
provides guidance and procedures on how to make a report.
1. Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic.)
1.1. Mandatory Reporting
1.2. Forming a ‘reasonable belief’
1.3. Types of child abuse and indicators of harm
1.4. Reporting child protection concerns
1.5. When to make a mandatory report
1.6. When a report may be required, though not mandated
1.7. Flowchart – Responding to a possible mandatory reporting concern.
2. Crimes Act 1958 (Vic.)
2.1. Failure to disclose
2.2. Failure to protect
2.3. When to report criminal offences.
3. How to make a report for mandatory reporting and criminal offences
3.1. Making a report
3.2. Potential consequences of making a report
3.3. Related resources.
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Procedures
1. Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic.)
1.1 Mandatory Reporting
Mandatory reporting is a legal requirement under the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic.) (Act)
to protect children from harm relating to physical injury and sexual abuse. A child, for the purpose of the
relevant parts of the Act, is any person 17 years of age or younger. School personnel mandated under
this Act who, in the course of carrying out their duties, form a reasonable belief that a child is in need of
protection from physical, emotional, psychological, developmental harm or sexual abuse, and that
the child’s parents are unwilling or unable to protect the child, must report that belief to DHHS Child
Protection and the grounds for it as soon as possible after forming the belief. A subsequent report must
be made on each occasion on which the mandatory reporter becomes aware of further reasonable
grounds for the belief.
1.2 Forming a 'reasonable belief'
When staff are concerned about the safety and wellbeing of a child or young person, they must assess
that concern to determine if a report should be made to the relevant agency. This process of considering
all relevant information and observations is known as forming a ‘reasonable belief’.
A ‘reasonable belief’ or a ‘belief on reasonable grounds’ is not the same as having proof but is more than
mere rumour or speculation. A ‘reasonable belief’ is formed if a reasonable person in the same position
would have formed the belief on the same grounds.
For example, a ‘reasonable belief’ might be formed if:
• a child states that they have been physically or sexually abused
• a child states that they know someone who has been physically or sexually abused (sometimes the
child may be talking about themselves)
• someone who knows a child states that the child has been physically or sexually abused
• a child or young person exhibits sexually-abusive or age-inappropriate behaviours
• professional observations of the child’s behaviour or development leads a professional to form a
belief that the child has been physically or sexually abused or is likely to be abused
• signs of abuse lead to a belief that the child has been physically or sexually abused.
1.3 Types of child abuse and indicators of harm
Child abuse can have a significant effect on a child’s physical or emotional health, development and
wellbeing. The younger a child the more vulnerable he/she is and the more serious the consequences
are likely to be.
There are many indicators of child abuse and neglect. The presence of a single indicator, or even several
indicators, does not prove that abuse or neglect has occurred. However, the repeated occurrence of an
indicator, or the occurrence of several indicators together, should alert staff to the possibility of child
abuse and neglect. While any indicators of possible child abuse or neglect are concerning, it is important
to know which indicatorsmust be reported.
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It is mandatory to report concerns relating to:
• physical abuse
• sexual abuse.
While not mandated, making a report to DHHS Child Protection may also be needed for:
• emotional abuse
• neglect
• medical neglect
• family violence
• human trafficking (including forced marriage)
• sexual exploitation (including pornography and prostitution)
• risk-taking behaviour
• female genital mutilation
• risk to an unborn child
• a child or young person exhibiting sexually-abusive behaviours.
Note: For full definitions for all of the types of child abuse and a comprehensive list of the indicators of
harm refer to Appendix 2: Protecting the safety and wellbeing of children and young people.
1.4 Reporting child protection concerns
All school staff who believe on reasonable grounds that a child or young person is in need of:
• protection from physical harm or sexual abuse – must report their concerns to DHHS Child
Protection
• protection from harm that is not believed to involve physical harm or sexual abuse – are encouraged
to report their concerns to DHHS Child Protection
• therapeutic treatment – are encouraged to report their concerns to DHHS Child Protection or Child
FIRST.
Child Protection is the Victorian Government Agency, provided by the DHHS, that protects children at
risk of significant harm. Child Protection has statutory powers and can use these to protect children.
Child FIRST is the Family Information Referral Support Team run by a registered community service in a
local area that can receive confidential referrals about a child of concern. It does not have any statutory
powers to protect a child but can refer matters to family services.
Mandatory reporters must report their concern to DHHS Child Protection if there is a reasonable belief
that a child or young person is in need of protection from physical injury or sexual abuse. Refer
to: A step-by-step guide to making a report to Child Protection or Child FIRST (PDF - 270Kb)
It is essential to document the concerns and observations which contributed to the suspicion that a child
is in need of protection. This information may be gathered over a period of time and should be treated
confidentially and held securely.
It is recommended – not, however, a requirement – that concerns and observations regarding suspected
physical injury or sexual abuse of a child are discussed with the principal or a senior school staff member
and to ensure support is provided to all involved in matters of this nature. The confidentiality of these
discussions must be maintained.
If more than one mandated reporter has formed a belief about the same child on the same occasion, it
is sufficient for one professional to make a report. The other is obliged to ensure the report has been
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made and that all grounds for their own belief were included in the report made by the other staff
member (Section 184 (2)).
If one mandated reporter directs another mandated reporter not to make a report, and the one
professional continues to hold the belief that a child is in need of protection, then that professional is
legally obliged to make a report to Child Protection.
The mandatory reporter may continue to suspect that a child is at risk and in need of protection. Any
further observations should continue to be recorded and a report made on each separate occasion
where a belief has been formed, on reasonable grounds, that a child is likely to be at risk and in need of
protection. If there is any suspicion that this relates to a sexual offence involving an adult and a
child under 16 then it must be reported to the police. Refer
to Department of Justice and Regulations – Failure to disclose offence and
the Betrayal of Trust: Fact Sheet.
1.5 When to make a mandatory report
Type of Reporting By Whom To Whom
Mandatory Reporting - DHHS Child
Protection
Mandatory reporters must make a report as
soon as practicable if, in the course of
practising their profession or carrying out
their duties, they form a belief on reasonable
grounds that a child or young person is in
need of protection, as a result of physical
injury or sexual abuse, and the child’s
parents are unable or unwilling to protect
the child.
Mandatory reporters
• Teachers registered
to teach or who
have permission to
teach pursuant to
theEducation and
Training Reform
Act 2006 (Vic.)
• Principals of
government and
non-government
schools
• Registered medical
practitioners
• Nurses
• All members of the
police force.
Contact DHHS Child Protection
1.6 When a report may be required, though not mandated
Type of Reporting By Whom To Whom
Child in need of protection
Any person may make a report if they
believe on reasonable grounds that a child is
in need of protection for any of the
following reasons:
• The child has been abandoned and
Any person Contact DHHS Child Protection
and
Victoria Police if it is clear a
crime has been committed.
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there is no other suitable person who is
willing and able to care for the child.
• The child’s parents are dead or
incapacitated and there is no other
suitable person who is willing and able
to care for the child.
• The child has suffered or is likely to
suffer significant harm as a result of
physical injury and the parents are
unable or unwilling to protect the child.
• The child has suffered or is likely to
suffer significant harm as a result of
sexual abuse and their parents are
unable or unwilling to protect the child.
• The child has suffered or is likely to
suffer emotional or psychological harm
and the parents are unable or unwilling
to protect the child.
The child’s physical development or health
has been, or is likely to be significantly
harmed and the parents are unable or
unwilling to provide basic care, or effective
medical or other remedial care.
Child in need of therapeutic treatment
Any person may make a report if they
believe on reasonable grounds that a child
who is 10 years of age or over, but under 15
years of age, is in need of therapeutic
treatment because he or she has exhibited
sexually-abusive behaviours. Contact Child
FIRST if there is no significant concern about
the immediate safety of the child.
Any person Contact DHHS Child
Protection or Child First
Contact Details
Significant concerns about wellbeing of a
child
School staff can seek advice from or make
referral to DHHS Child Protection or Child
FIRST if they have a significant concern for
the wellbeing of a child and where the
immediate safety of the child is not
compromised.
The staff member should share relevant
information with Child FIRST to help them
complete their assessment of the referral.
Any person Contact DHHS Child
Protection or Child First
Contact Details
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1.7 Flowchart – Responding to a possible mandatory reporting concern
Click here to download a PDF of the flowchart.
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2. Crimes Act 1958 (Vic.)
Three new criminal offences have been introduced under the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic.):
• failure to disclose offence, which requires adults to report to police a reasonable belief that a sexual
offence has been committed against a child
• failure to protect offence, which applies to people within organisations who knew of a risk of child
sexual abuse by someone in the organisation and had the authority to reduce or remove the risk,
but failed to do so
• grooming offence, which targets communication with a child or their parents with the intent of
committing child sexual abuse.
2.1 Failure to disclose
Any staff member who forms a reasonable belief that a sexual offence has been committed in Victoria
by an adult against a child under 16 must disclose that information to police. Failure to disclose the
information to police is a criminal offence under section 327 of the Crimes Act 1958 (Victoria) and
applies to all adults in Victoria, not just professionals who work with children. The obligation is to
disclose that information to the police as soon as it is practicable to do so, except in limited
circumstances such as where the information has already been reported to DHHS Child Protection.
For further information about the ‘failure to disclose’ offence,
see: Department of Justice and Regulations – Failure to disclose offence and
theBetrayal of Trust: Fact Sheet.
2.2 Failure to protect
Any staff member in a position of authority who becomes aware that an adult associated with their
organisation (such as an employee, contractor, volunteer, sport coach or visitor) poses a risk of sexual
abuse to a child under 16 who is in the care or supervision of the organisation must take all reasonable
steps to reduce or remove that risk. Failure to take reasonable steps to protect a child in the
organisation from the risk of sexual abuse from an adult associated with the organisation is a criminal
offence contained in section 49C (2) of the Crimes Act 1958(Vic.). In a school context this will include
the principal and the business manager and may also extend to School Counsellors, heads of
departments and heads of school.
For further information about the ‘failure to protect’ offence,
see: Department of Justice and Regulations - Failure to protect offence and the
Betrayal of Trust: Fact Sheet.
2.3 Grooming
The offence of grooming prohibits predatory conduct designed to prepare or ‘groom’ a child for future
sexual activity and is contained in section 49B (2) of the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic.). The offence applies to
communication with children under 16 years. Grooming can be conducted in person or online, for
example via interaction through social media, web forums and emails. The offence can be committed by
any person aged 18 years or over. It does not apply to communication between people who are both
under 18 years of age. For further information about the ‘grooming offence’,
see: Department of Justice and Regulation – Grooming offence and theBetrayal of Trust: Fact Sheet.
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For more information about managing and responding to the risk of
abuse, see Responding to Student Sexual Assault and Risk Management in
the Department of Education and Training resources.
2.4 When to report criminal offences
This table sets out when to report a concern that a child or a young person has been abused, or is in
need of protection.
Types of Reporting By Whom To Whom
Reasonable belief that a sexual offence has been
committed by an adult against a child under 16.
Any adult who forms a reasonable belief that a
sexual offence has been committed in Victoria by
an adult against a child under 16 must report that
information to police.
You will not be guilty of an offence if you do not
report in the following circumstances:
• The victim is 16 years of age or older and does
not have an intellectual disability that limits
his/her capacity to make an informed decision;
and he/she does not want the information
reported to the police.
• The victim has disclosed the information in
confidence in the course of a therapeutic
relationship with you as a registered medical
practitioner or counsellor.
• The victim turned 16 years of age before 27
October 2014.
• Reasonable excuses for failing to comply with
the requirement include:
• a reasonable belief that the information has
already been reported to police or DHHS Child
Protection disclosing all of the information
• a reasonable fear that the disclosure will place
someone (other than the alleged perpetrator)
at risk of harm.
Any person aged 18 or over Victoria Police
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3. How to make a report for mandatory reporting and
criminal offences
The following information provides practical guidance in relation to record-keeping for both mandatory
reporting and criminal offences.
3.1 Making a report
In case of emergency or if a child is in life-threatening danger contact Triple Zero (000) or the local
police station.
Alternatively, to report concerns about the immediate safety of a child within their family unit to DHHS
Child Protection, call the local Child Protection Intake Provider (see DHHS Child Protection contacts). If
after hours call the Child Protection Crisis Line on 13 12 78.
The table below describes the information to include when making a mandatory report about child
abuse or child protection concerns.
Step Description
1. Keep comprehensive notes that are dated and include the following information:
• a description of the concerns (e.g. physical injuries, student behaviour)
• the source of those concerns (e.g. observation, report from child or another person)
• the actions taken as a result of the concerns (e.g. consultation with the principal, report
to DHHS Child Protection etc.).
2. Discuss any concerns about the safety and wellbeing of students with the principal or a
member of the school leadership team.
The individual staff member should then make their own assessment about whether they
should make a report about the child or young person and to whom the report should be
made.
3. Gather the relevant information necessary to make the report. This should include the
following information:
• full name, date of birth and residential address of the child or young person
• the details of the concerns and the reasons for those concerns
• the individual staff member’s involvement with the child or young person
• details of any other agencies which may be involved with the child or young person.
4. Make a report to the relevant agency:
• To report concerns which are life-threatening phone 000 or the local police station.
• To find the nearest Victoria Police Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team
contact your local police station. Visit the Victoria Police website for local contact
numbers.
• To report concerns about the immediate safety of a child within their family unit to DHHS
Child Protection:
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• Call your local Child Protection Intake provider immediately, Child Protection
• For After Hours Child Protection Emergency Services, call 13 12 78.
• To report concerns to DHHS Child Protection, contact your local child protection office.
**Non-mandated staff members who believe on reasonable grounds that a child is in need of
protection are able to report their concerns to Child Protection.
5. Make a written record of the report including the following information:
• the date and time of the report and a summary of what was reported
• the name and position of the person who made the report and the person who received
the report.
6. Notify relevant school staff and/or Catholic Education Melbourne staff of a report to DHHS
Child Protection or Child FIRST.
• School staff should advise the principal or a member of the leadership team if they have
made a report.
• School staff can seek further assistance by contacting the Catholic Education Melbourne
Wellbeing & Community Partnerships Unit.
7. In the case of international students, the principal must notify the International Education
Division of the Department of Education and Training on (03) 9637 2990 to ensure that
appropriate support is arranged for the student.
In the case of Koorie students, the principal must notify the Diocese or Regional Office (as
appropriate) to ensure the regional Koorie support officer can arrange appropriate support
for the student.
3.2 Potential consequences of making a report
This table describes the potential consequences of making a report.
Potential consequence Description
Confidentiality The identity of a reporter must remain confidential unless:
• the reporter chooses to inform the child, young person or parent of the
report
• the reporter consents in writing to their identity being disclosed
• a court or tribunal decides that it necessary for the identity of the
reporter to be disclosed to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the child
• a court or tribunal decides that, in the interests of justice, the reporter is
required to provide evidence.
Professional Protection If a report is made in good faith:
• it does not constitute unprofessional conduct or a breach of professional
ethics on the part of the reporter
• the reporter cannot be held legally liable in respect of the report.
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Interviews DHHS Child Protection and/or Victoria Police may conduct interviews of
children and young people at the school without their parent’s knowledge or
consent.
• Interviewing children and young people at school should only occur in
exceptional circumstances and if it is in the best interests of the child to
proceed in this manner
• DHHS Child Protection and/or Victoria Police will notify the principal or a
member of the leadership team of their intention to interview the child
or young person on the school premises
• When DHHS Child Protection practitioners/Victoria Police officers come
to the school premises, the principal or a member of the leadership team
should request to see identification before permitting them to have
access to the child or young person
• When a child or young person is being interviewed by DHHS Child
Protection and/or Victoria Police, school staff must arrange to have a
supportive adult present with the child or young person.
For more information on these requests and school responsibilities: see the
Department of Education & Training website: Police and DHHS Interviews.
Support for the child or
young person
The roles and responsibilities of staff members in supporting children who
are involved with DHHS Child Protection may include the following:
• acting as a support person for the child or young person
• attending DHHS Child Protection case-planning meetings
• observing and monitoring the child’s behaviour liaising with
professionals.
Requests for
Information
DHHS Child Protection and/or Child FIRST and/or Victoria Police may request
information about the child or family for the purpose of investigating a report
and assessing the risk to the child or young person.
In certain circumstances, DHHS Child Protection can also direct school staff
and Department staff to provide information or documents about the
protection or development of the child. Such directions should be in writing
and only be made by authorised persons within DHHS Child Protection: see
the Department of Education & Training
website:Requests for Information About Students
Witness Summons If DHHS Child Protection makes a Protection Application in the Children’s
Court of Victoria, any party to the application may issue a Witness Summons
to produce documents and/or to give evidence in the proceedings: see the
Department of Education & Training website:
Subpoenas and Witness Summonses
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3.3 Related resources
Catholic Education Melbourne
• Catholic Schools Operational Guide (CEVN website).
Department of Education and Training
• Duty of care
• Police and DHHS Interviews
• Responding to Student Sexual Assault
• Requests for Information about Students
• Subpoenas and Witness Summonses
• Flowchart: A step-by-step guide to making a report to Child Protection or Child FIRST (PDF - 270Kb)
• Mandatory Reporting eLearning Module.
Related legislation
• Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic.)
• Crimes Act 1958 (Vic.)
• Education and Training Reform Act 2006 (Vic.)
• Victorian Institute of Teaching Act 2001 (Vic.).
Department of Health and Human Services
• Child Protection
• Child FIRST.
Victoria Police
• Victoria Police Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Teams (SOCIT).
Department of Justice and Regulations
• Failure to disclose offence
• Failure to protect offence
• Grooming offence.
Other resources
• Daniel Morcombe Child Safety Curriculum
• Parents: Daniel Morcombe Child Safety Curriculum Parents Guides (Queensland Department of
Education, Training and Employment)
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Further information
Catholic Education Melbourne Wellbeing & Community Partnerships Unit operates the Student
Wellbeing Information Line (9am – 5pm daily) 03 9267 0228
The Student Wellbeing Information Line seeks to:
• address matters that impact on the wellbeing and educational outcomes of young people arising in
Catholic school communities across the Archdiocese of Melbourne using a solution focusedframework
• act as a conduit between the school and the family to promote effective communication and
resolution of enquiries
• empower and enhance the capacity, competence and confidence of stakeholders to address matters
related to the wellbeing of young people.
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APPENDIX 1
School’s internal process and related documents
Add your school’s internal reporting processes here:
Add your school’s links to related documents and policies here:

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