Action Two: Reporting to Authorities


Critical Information

As soon as immediate health and safety concerns are addressed you must report incidents, disclosures and suspicions of student sexual offending as soon as possible to:

  • Victoria Police on 000 (all instances)
  • DHHS Child Protection if you believe that: 
  • ALSO report internally to:  
    • School Principal and/or leadership team (all instances)
    • Victorian Government Schools: DET Security Services Unit
    • Catholic Schools: Diocesan education office
  • You must identify a contact person at the school for future liaison with Victoria Police and/or DHHS Child Protection and seek advice about contacting parents/carers (see Action Three).

Following any incident, suspicion or disclosure of student sexual offending you must make a report as soon as possible. This section steps you through the process for making a report, including:

  • Reporting to Victoria Police 
  • Contacting DHHS Child Protection
  • Reporting Internally
  • Reporting if the incident, suspicion or disclosure relates to an international student
  • Making Additional Reports (in circumstances where a report has already been made)

Reporting to Victoria Police

If there is an incident, allegation or you form a suspicion that a student is victim to student sexual offending and/or a student has committed student sexual offending, you must report to Victoria Police.

Victoria Police will refer the report to their Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team for appropriate action and follow up (SOCITs are teams of specialist detectives trained to investigate the complex crimes of sexual assault and child abuse).

You must also identify a contact person at the school for future liaison with Victoria Police and seek advice about contacting parents/carers. See: Step Four.

Reporting to DHHS Child Protection

In addition to reporting all incidents, disclosures or suspicions of student sexual offending to Victoria Police, you must also make a report to DHHS Child Protection if you believe that:

You must also identify a contact person at the school for future liaison with DHHS Child Protection and seek advice about contacting parents/carers. See: Step Four.

When contacting DHHS Child Protection you should be aware that they work with children under 17, but can still be contacted with concerns relating to students 17 and over for referral and advice. Victoria Police work with all age groups.

Report Internally

Following any incident, disclosure or suspicion of student sexual offending you must also report internally to:

  • School Principal and/or leadership team (all instances), highlighting: 
    • the details of the suspected student sexual offending, including the names of those involved
    • any immediate actions taken to protect the safety of the students and others involved
    • your report or intention to report to Victoria Police and/or DHHS Child Protection
    • possible steps that can be taken to contact parents/carers (if appropriate) and support the students who are impacted by the student sexual offending
  • Government Schools:
    • DET Student Incident and Recovery Unit on (03) 9637 2934
    • DET Security Services Unit on (03) 9589 6266
  • Catholic Schools: Diocesan education office, including: 
    • Archdiocese of Melbourne: Office of Professional Conduct, Ethics & Investigation on (03) 9267 0228
    • Diocese of Sale: Child Protection Officer on (03) 5622 6600
    • Diocese of Ballarat: Child Safety on (03) 5337 7135
    • Diocese of Sandhurst: Child Protection Officer on (03) 5443 2377 

Principals have primary responsibility for managing the school response to incidents, disclosures or suspicions of student sexual offending. 

For an outline of the Principal's responsibilities, see: Responding to Student Sexual Offending: Principal Checklist (pdf - 134.24kb) Word version (docx - 169.5kb)

*Please note that reporting internally does not mean that your reporting obligations have been met. You must also report to Victoria Police (and DHHS Child Protection in appropriate circumstances).

Reporting if the incident, disclosure or suspicion relates to an international student

If the incident, disclosure or suspicion relates to an international student you will most likely be required to make an additional report:

  • Government schools must also contact International Education Division on (03) 9637 2990. 
  • Catholic and independent schools will need to contact the VRQA on (03) 9637 2806 or via email at vrqa.schools@edumail.vic.gov.au if your school has issued a Confirmation of Appropriate Accommodation and Welfare (CAAW) letter in relation that student (thereby assuming responsibility for approving the child's accommodation, and providing support and general welfare).

How should you proceed if the Principal/leadership team advises you not to make a report?

In some circumstances the Principal and/or leadership team may advise you not to proceed with reporting suspected student sexual offending.

Regardless of this advice, if you hold a reasonable belief that a child has been, or is at risk of student sexual offending you must still make a report to Victoria Police and, in some circumstances, DHHS Child Protection. These reports may be critical in protecting a child from student sexual offending.

If you fail to report you may not discharge your duty of care obligations. In some circumstances, a failure to report can also amount to a criminal offence.

If you decide not to report, this decision should be documented. See, Responding to Suspected Student Sexual Offending: Template (pdf - 303.06kb)Word version (docx - 192.01kb).

For advice on the actions that must be taken in the event that a report has already been made, see: Making Additional Reports below.

Making Additional Reports

Reporting further reasonable grounds for belief

You must make a new report in any circumstance where you become aware of any further incidents, or disclosures, or form a new suspicion that a child is a victim of student sexual offending, or has engaged in student sexual offending. 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:

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

What if another person has already made a report?

Your obligation to report student sexual offending 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 investigate and respond to the student sexual offending.

However, there may be times when two or more school staff members, for example a teacher and a Principal, have formed a belief about suspected student sexual offending, involving the same child/children, 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 about the suspected student sexual offending. The other is obliged to ensure that the report has been made and that all the information that they have in relation to the suspected student sexual offending was 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.