Understand your obligations to protect children

See: Four Critical Actions for Schools: Responding to Incidents, Disclosures or Suspicions of Child Abuse (pdf - 642.03kb)  |  Word version

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Critical Information

  • All school staff members have a moral and legal obligation and a Duty of Care to protect any child under their care from foreseeable harm (not just staff who are classified as mandatory reporters).

  • As a school staff member, you must respond to any reasonable suspicion that a child has been, or is at risk of being abused by following the Four Critical Actions for Schools: Responding to Incidents, Disclosures or Suspicions of Child Abuse.

  • Recent changes to Victorian legislation create additional legal obligations in relation to reporting suspected sexual child abuse. Failing to meet these obligations can constitute a criminal offence, including a:
    • failure to disclose a sexual offence

    • failure to protect a child (where it is known that a person associated with their organisation poses a substantial risk of sexually abusing children).

For more information, see: Four Critical Actions for Schools: Responding to Incidents, Disclosures or Suspicions of Child Abuse (pdf - 642.03kb)   |  Word version

As members of a community, we all have a moral obligation to protect any child under our care and supervision from foreseeable harm. As a school staff members you play a critical role in protecting children and and must meet a range of legal obligations to identify, respond and report child abuse.

The easiest way to comply with your legal and moral obligations is to remember that you must report any reasonable suspicion that a child has been abused, or is at risk of being abused.

This includes abuse that has, or is suspected to have, taken place within or outside of school grounds and hours.

This section sets out your legal obligations in further detail, including:

Please note that for School Councils operating a licensed or approved early childhood education or care service (including an Outside Hours School Care service), if an incident, disclosure or suspicion of child abuse is formed within this service setting, schools must also comply with the National Quality Framework and its corresponding legislation.

See: National Quality Framework