Early Childhood Guidance

Protecting children and young people from abuse logo

This content has been developed to support staff employed in Victorian early childhood services to take action if they suspect, or are witness to any form of child abuse.

This includes all staff within any service providing education and care on a regular basis to children under the age of 13 years, approved and licensed services, Maternal Child Health Services, Early Childhood Intervention Services, Supported Playgroups and Supported Parenting Programs, and staff working in Outside School Hours Care (OSHC). Separate guidance exists for school staff within Victorian Schools.

As a staff member within an early childhood service, you play a vital role in protecting children from abuse by responding to and reporting any incidents, disclosures or suspicions. You are often best placed to identify signs and behaviours that may indicate that a child has been subject to abuse, or that a community member, staff member, contractor or volunteer may be a perpetrator of abuse.

This resource uses the term child to refer to any person under the age of 18.

This resource has been designed to support you in this role and it includes specific advice on:

To download a copy of the full guide and factsheets, see: 

Relevant authorities

Both DHHS and Victoria Police have statutory responsibilities under the Children Youth and Families Act 2005 and Crimes Act 1958 requiring people to report suspected child abuse where they have formed a 'reasonable belief' or 'a belief on reasonable grounds' in relation to the protection of children.

  • DHHS Child Protectionis the lead agency responsible for the care and protection of children and may bring cases before the Children's Court and support orders granted by the Children's Court.
  • Victoria Police (SOCIT) is responsible for criminal investigations into alleged child abuse.
  • Child FIRST Referral and Support Teamsare family services practitioners experienced in assessing the needs of vulnerable children and their families. Child FIRST teams work closely with community-based DHHS Child Protection workers.
  • Quality Assessment and Regulation Division regulates education and care services and is responsible for ensuring the safety, health and wellbeing of children in Early Childhood Services.

24 hour services

Counselling and support organisations