​​Critical information

  • Serious neglect may significantly impair the health and/or physical development of the child, or places this development at serious risk. See: What is neglect?
  • ​If you​ suspect that a child is experiencing neglect, you must report it by following: Four Critical Actions For Early Childhood Services
  • These Actions are best practice and align with your duty of care obligations. 

 ​In this section​​

What is neglect?

​Neglect includes a failure to provide the child with

  • an adequate standard of nutrition
  •  medical care
  • clothing
  • shelter 
  •  supervision

to the extent that the health or physical development of the child is significantly impaired or placed at serious risk.

In some circumstances the neglect of a child:

  • can place the child's immediate safety and development at serious risk
  • may not immediately compromise the safety of the child, but is likely to result in longer term cumulative harm.

This includes low-to-moderate concerns for the wellbeing of a child, such as:

  • concerns due to conflict within a family
  • parenting difficulties
  • isolation of a family or a lack of apparent support

Both forms of neglect must be responded to via the Four Critical Actions for Early Childhood Services.

​What are the physical indicators of neglect?

Physical indicators of neglect include (but are not limited to):

  • appearing consistently dirty and unwashed
  • being consistently inappropriately dressed for weather conditions
  • being at risk of injury or harm due to consistent lack of adequate supervision from parents
  • being consistently hungry, tired and listless
  • having unattended health problems and lack of routine medical care
  • having inadequate shelter and unsafe or unsanitary conditions.

What are the behavioural indicators of neglect?

Behaviour indicators of neglect include (but are not limited to):

In an infant or toddler:

  • self-stimulatory behaviours, for example, rocking, head banging
  • crying excessively or not at all
  • listless and immobile and/or emancipated and pale
  • exhibits significant delays in gross motor development and coordination
  • inadequate attention to the safety of the home (e.g. dangerous medicines left where children may have access to them)
  • being left unsupervised, either at home, on the street or in a car
  • their parent/carer is unresponsive or impatient to child's cues and unreceptive to support
  • developmental delay due to lack of stimulation.

In all children, infants and toddlers:

  • being left with older children or persons who could not reasonably be expected to provide adequate care and protection
  • gorging when food is available or inability to eat when extremely hungry
  • begging for, or stealing food
  • appearing withdrawn, listless, pale and weak
  • aggressive behaviour, irritability
  • little positive interaction with parent, carer or guardian
  • indiscriminate acts of affection and excessive friendliness towards strangers
  • exhibits significant delays in gross and fine motor development and coordination
  • poor, irregular or non-attendance at the service (where regular attendance is expected)
  • refusal or reluctance to go home
  • self-destructive behaviour
  • taking on an adult role of caring for parent.