Making a mandatory report
How should a report be made?
Once a mandatory reporter forms a belief, on reasonable grounds, that child sexual abuse has occurred or is occurring; they must make a report to the Department of Communities - Child Protection and Family Support’s Mandatory Reporting Service.
A verbal report can be made, but must be followed by a written report as soon as is practicable, preferably within 24 hours.
The reporter’s organisation may have internal reporting procedures, and it is important that reporters check this with their organisation.
What must be reported?
Mandatory reporters must report a belief, formed on reasonable grounds in the course of their work, paid or unpaid, that a child or young person has been the subject of sexual abuse or is the subject of ongoing sexual abuse, to the Department’s Mandatory Reporting Service.
Refer to Information Provision in a mandatory report for detailed information.
What if child sexual abuse occured before the legislation came into effect on 1 January 2009, are mandatory reporters obliged to report it under the Act?
The Act refers to sexual abuse that 'occurred on or after commencement day' of the legislation. Abuse that occurs prior to that day should be reported, but there is no penalty if a report is not made.
When must a report be made?
Mandatory reporters must report the belief that a child is being sexually abused, or has been sexually abused, as soon as practicable.
The earlier a report is received, the faster action can be taken to protect a child, where this is necessary.
Is proof of child sexual abuse needed to make a report?
No. Mandatory reporters do not need to have proof that a child or young person is being sexually abused in order to make a mandatory report. However, mandatory reporters must have formed a belief on reasonable grounds.
It is important that the mandatory reporters do not ask questions that suggest the ‘right’ words to a child or young person, or in a way that can be seen as putting words in the child’s mouth. The investigation of the disclosure should only be done by professional child protection workers or the Western Australia Police.
Where does a report need to be made?
Mandatory reporters have to report reasonable concerns of child sexual abuse to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Department of Communities - Child Protection and Family Support, or to other persons approved by the CEO. The Department’s Mandatory Reporting Service will receive all mandatory reports.
Before making a report, mandatory reporters should check:
• to see if someone in their organisation is approved by the CEO to receive mandatory reports
• their organisation’s policy on internal mandatory reporting procedures.
Should mandatory reporters make a verbal report initially?
Yes. Due to the seriousness of child sexual abuse, a verbal report is the preferred method of reporting in the first instance.
By making a verbal report, the Mandatory Reporting Service can ask the mandatory reporter clarifying questions and gather as much information as possible to inform the assessment.
A verbal report must be followed by a written report.
When must a written report be made?
A written report must be made to the Mandatory Reporting Service as soon as practicable.
If a mandatory reporter has made a verbal report initially, a written report should follow as soon as practicable after the initial report, preferably within 24 hours.
Is there a form or template for making a mandatory report?
Yes. The Mandatory Reporting Service has a form, Mandatory Report - Sexual Abuse which should be used to make a written report.
How can mandatory reporters get a copy of the form, Mandatory Report - Sexual Abuse?
Mandatory reporters can:
• Access and complete this form securely online.
• Download a PDF version of the form from this website.
• Contact the Mandatory Reporting Service to have a blank form sent via fax or post.
How can a written report be made?
Written reports can be lodged with the Mandatory Reporting Service via:
• the internet: www.mandatoryreporting.dcp.wa.gov.au
• email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
• fax to: 1800 610 614
• post to: PO Box 8146
PERTH BC WA 6849
Failure to make a written report, following a verbal report, can result in a fine of up to $3,000.
What happens after a report is made?
After a mandatory reporter makes a report, the Mandatory Reporting Service will:
• Acknowledge receipt of the report.
• Provide the Western Australia Police with a copy of the written report.
• Make enquiries and an assessment, and then take the necessary action.
• Assist the Western Australia Police, who may undertake a separate investigation.
What happens if a mandatory reporter does not make a report?
Failure to make a report can result in a fine of up to $6,000. A person can be prosecuted within three (3) years after failing to make a report. After that, any action will be at the Attorney General’s discretion.
If multiple mandatory reporters form a belief on reasonable grounds about the same alleged incident of child sexual abuse, and those reporters have professionally consulted with each other about the belief, is each mandatory reporter required to make an individual report about that child?
For example… A belief that a child has been sexually abused arises during a case planning meeting within a hospital attended by mandatory reporters and other health staff. Is every mandatory reporter obliged to make a report or can just one nominated mandatory reporter make the report, for example the case manager?
The mandatory reporters can agree that only one person will make the report, as the ‘reporter’. The other mandatory reporters who have also formed a belief that child sexual abuse has occurred on or after 1 January 2009, or is occurring, should record this on their internal documentation.
If more than one mandatory reporter forms a belief on reasonable grounds that child sexual abuse has occurred or is occurring to a child or young person, and each mandatory reporter is aware that the child may have had contact with other mandatory reporters who may or may not have already made a report, is each mandatory reporter required to make a report about that child?
For example… A child or young person is admitted to an accident and emergency department at a hospital. The patient and/or parent discloses an incident to the triage nurse, then again to the assessment nurse, then again to the accident and emergency doctor. The patient is then admitted to a ward and has contact with another nurse and/or goes to X-ray or CT scanning which may be at another site. The first four mandatory reporters never see that patient again. Who should make the report?
A mandatory report about the child must be made to the Mandatory Reporting Service.
The four mandatory reporters can each make individual reports.
However, if the mandatory reporters know that the disclosure of child sexual abuse has been made to the other mandatory reporters, and also have the opportunity to consult with each other about the situation, they can agree that only one person will make the report. In that case, the other mandatory reporters who have also formed a belief that child sexual abuse has occurred or is occurring should record this action on internal documentation.
If a person who is not a mandatory reporter forms a belief that child sexual abuse has occurred or is occurring to a child or young person, what should they do?
For example…A teacher’s aide or an ambulance officer neither of whom is a mandatory reporter, forms a belief that child sexual abuse has occurred or is occurring to a child or young person.
People who are not mandatory reporters should report child sexual abuse to their local office of Child Protection and Family Support.
If they work closely with a mandatory reporter, they can discuss their concerns with that person. This may result in a mandatory report being made about the child or children concerned by the mandatory reporter, if that person forms a belief that sexual abuse has occurred or is ongoing on or after 1 January 2009. In these cases, the non-mandatory reporter is simply a person who provides information on the basis of which a report is made.
In either of the cases above, as with the identity of a mandatory reporter, the identity of a non-mandatory reporter must be kept confidential, except in limited circumstances. Such people are also protected, when making a report or providing information in good faith, from breaching any duty of confidentiality, professional ethics, standards or principles of conduct which would normally apply, and also from incurring any civil or criminal liability.
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About mandatory reporting legislation
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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