Department of Child Protection Child Protection: Mandatory Reporting Training Site



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About mandatory reporting legislation

What is mandatory reporting legislation?
Mandatory reporting legislation requires specific people or professionals to report concerns of child abuse to child protection agencies.

In Western Australia, the legislation covering mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse is the Children and Community Services Amendment (Reporting Sexual Abuse of Children) Act 2008, and from 1 January 2009, this Amendment will became part of the Children and Community Services Act 2004.

Who are mandatory reporters under the legislation?
Under the Children and Community Services Amendment (Reporting Sexual Abuse of Children) Act 2008 mandatory reporters in Western Australia are:
• doctors
• nurses and midwives
• teachers
• police officers.
 
What does the legislation mean to mandatory reporters?
The legislation requires mandatory reporters to report suspected child sexual abuse if they form this belief, based on reasonable grounds, in the course of their paid or unpaid work, to the Department for Child Protection.

This legislation focuses on child sexual abuse. Other forms of abuse (physical, emotional and neglect) should continue to be reported, but there is no penalty if a report is not made.
 
How is a ‘child’ defined in relation to mandatory reporting?
A child is defined in the Children and Community Services Act 2004 as ‘under 18 years of age, and in the absence of positive evidence of age, means a person apparently under 18 years of age’.
 
What is ‘child sexual abuse’ in relation to mandatory reporting?
‘Sexual abuse’, in relation to a child, includes sexual behaviour in circumstances where:
(a)  the child is the subject of bribery, coercion, a threat, exploitation or violence; or
(b)  the child has less power than another person involved in the behaviour; or
(c)  there is a significant disparity in the developmental function or maturity of the child and another 
      person involved in the behaviour.

Why is the legislation limited to only certain professionals and only child sexual abuse?
In 2007, the former Government decided to introduce mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse by certain professions that are the most likely to come into contact with children and families (teachers, doctors, nurses, midwives and police officers).  Other types of abuse and professionals do not come under the mandatory reporting legislation because there were concerns that mandatory reporting may overload the system with unsubstantiated reports.

The mandatory reporting legislation must be reviewed three years after it has been in operation.   

What is the definition of a teacher in relation to mandatory reporting?

The definition of a teacher for the purposes of mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse is as follows:
• a person who, under the Western Australian College of Teaching Act 2004, is registered,
   provisionally registered or has a limited authority to teach; or
• a person who is appointed under the School Education Act 1999 section 236(2) as a member of
   the teaching staff of a community kindergarten; or
• a person employed by the chief executive officer as defined in the Young Offenders Act 1994
   section 3 to teach detainees at a detention centre as defined in that section.

Generally speaking then, a teacher is someone who teaches in a:
school classroom; or
a community kindergarten teacher; or
a detention centre teacher.

However, there may also be situations where a ‘teacher’ as defined under the Act is not necessarily teaching in a school classroom but is registered with the Western Australian College of Teaching and employed in a teaching role, for example, certain TAFE lecturers.

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FAQ   
Making a mandatory report 
Information provision in a mandatory report  
After a report is made  
Responding to a child who makes a disclosure  
Confidentiality issues and mandatory reporting  
Indicators of child sexual abuse  
Training and information for mandatory reporters
Additional resources to implement mandatory reporting

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