Two: Reporting to authorities

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​​​Critical information

  • Following any incident, suspicion or disclosure of child abuse you must make a report as soon as possible. 
  • Failure to report physical and child sexual abuse may amount to a criminal offence.

This section steps you through the process for:​

Reporting when the source of the suspected abuse is within the service

​If the source of suspected abuse comes from within the service (this includes any forms of suspected child abuse involving a school staff member, contractor or volunteer):

  • you must contact Victoria Police via your local police station (where appropriate they will refer you on to the local Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team)

  • you must ALSO report internally to management (your approved provider or licensee in all instances)

  • ​you must ALSO notify the Quality Assessment and Regulation Division. To make notifications, see: The Nation​al Quality Agend​a IT System (NQA ITS)​ or  call: 1300 307 415. For more information, see: Regulation and Q​​uality Assessment
  • You must also identify a contact person at the school for future liaison with Child Protection and Victoria Police and seek advice about contacting parents/carers.  For further advice, see: Action Four: Provide Support

Child-led abuse refers to child-led sexual offending, involving children 10 years and over. This must be reported to the Victoria Police. If the suspected abuse involves child-led sexual offending by a child aged between 10 – 14 years (up to 15 years of age), you may also consider making a report to DHHS Child Protection if you believe that the child may be in need of therapeutic treatment.  For more advice, see: Children Exhibiting Inappropriate Sexual Behaviour

In cases of child-led sexual offending, it is also important to consider the underlying causes of the child's behaviour. If you form a reasonable belief that the child is engaging in child-led sexual offending because they have been subject to abuse, you must also report this belief.

Reporting when the source of suspected abuse is within the family or community

If the source of suspected abuse comes from within the family or community:

  • you must report to DHHS Child Protection ​if a child is considered to be:
    • in need of protection due to child abuse
    • at risk of being, harmed (or has been harmed), and the harm has had, or is likely to have, a serious impact on the child's safety, stability or development.
  • you must ALSO report suspected sexual abuse (including grooming) to Victoria Police
  • you must ALSO report internally to management (your approved provider or licensee in all instances)

Please note that reporting internally does not mean that mandatory reporting obligations have been met. The staff member who has formed a reasonable belief regarding child abuse or neglect must also report to DHHS Child Protection or Victoria Police if the child is in immediate risk of harm.

If you believe that a child is not subject to abuse, but you still hold significant concerns for their wellbeing, see: ​Making Additional Reports - Concerns about a ​student's wellbeing

How should you proceed if your approved provider or licensee advises you not to make a report?

​ ​In some circumstances, your approved provider may advise you not to proceed with reporting suspected abuse.

Regardless of this advice, if you hold a reasonable belief that a child has been, or is at risk of being abused you must still make a report to DHHS Child Protection and/or Victoria Police. This report may be critical in protecting a child from abuse.

If you fail to report you may not discharge your duty of care and in some circumstances you may be subject to criminal charges.

If you decide not to report, you should document your decision, see: Responding to Suspected Child Abuse: Template (pdf - 267.99kb)  Word Version  (docx - 181.87kb)

If a report has already been made, see: Making Additional Reports​​​

Making Additional Reports (in circumstances where a report has already been made)

Reporting further reasonable grounds for belief

You must make a new report in any circumstance where you become aware of any further reasonable grounds for the belief. Every report is critical to protecting a child by building evidence and enabling authorities to gain a clearer understanding of the risks.

This means that you must make a report to protect a child even if you are aware that:

  • DHHS Child Protection or Victoria Police were previously involved or are already involved with the child and/or their family
  • another party, such as a family member, has already raised concerns with the relevant authorities.

What if another person has already made a report?

Once you form a reasonable belief that a child has been, or is at risk of being abused, your obligation to report is separate from the obligations or actions of other people.

In addition, it is important to consider that other people may not have access to the specific detail you have. The information you provide through your report may assist the relevant authority to take further action to protect the child.

However, there may be times when two or more service staff members have formed a belief about the same child on the same occasion and based on the same information. In this situation it is sufficient that only one of the staff members make a report. The other is obliged to ensure that the report has been made and that all the grounds for their own belief were included in the report made by the other person.

In instances where two staff members form different views about whether or not to make a report, if one staff member continues to hold a reasonable belief that a child is in need of protection, then they are legally obliged to make a report.

What if you don't think the child is at risk of abuse but you still hold concerns about a student's wellbeing?

​If you believe that a child is not subject to child abuse, but you still hold significant concerns for their wellbeing, you may still need to contact DHHS Child Protection and/or Victoria Police and/or make a referral to Child FIRST.