All children have a right to feel safe and to be safe. As teachers, we have a legal and moral responsibility to respond to serious incidences involving abuse and neglect of the children with whom we have contact, and to report instances that involve physical, emotional, psychological, sexual abuse or neglect.
To ensure that childrens’ rights to be safe, are maintained and each child is protected against physical, emotional, psychological, sexual abuse, and neglect.
All Staff (teaching and non-teaching) are to complete the online ‘Protecting the Safety of Children and Young People, Mandatory Reporting Professional Learning Module’.
Certificates of completed ‘Protecting the Safety of Children and Young People, Mandatory Reporting Professional Learning Modules’ will be kept on file in staff folders.
New staff will be informed of mandatory reporting responsibilities and procedures as part of their induction procedure.
Under the Children, Youth and Families Act, teachers are legally compelled to make a report to Child Protection if they form a belief on reasonable grounds that a child is need of protection from abuse.
Forming a belief
To form a belief, the reporter must be aware of matters and hold any opinions in relation to those matters that lead them to reasonably believe a child is in need of protection
A 'belief on reasonable grounds' is formed if a reasonable person in the same position would have formed the belief on the same grounds. For example, there may be reasonable grounds when:
- a child states that they have been physically or sexually abused;
- a child states that they know someone who has been physically or sexually abused (sometimes the child may be talking about themselves);
- someone who knows the child states that the child has been physically or sexually abused;
- professional observations of the child’s behaviour or development leads the mandated professional to form a belief that the child has been abused or is likely to be abused;
- signs of physical or sexual abuse leads to a belief that the child has been abused.
Reporting a belief
Saint Monica’s requires staff to report their belief, when the belief is formed in the course of practising their profession. A report must be made as soon as practicable after forming the belief, and on each occasion on which they become aware of any further reasonable grounds for the belief.
There may be times when two or more mandated professionals, ie. a teacher and a principal have formed a belief about the same child on the same occasion. In this situation it is sufficient that only one of the mandated professionals 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 the case where one staff member directs another professional not to make a report, and one professional continues to hold the belief that a child is in need of protection, then that professional is legally obliged to make a report to Child Protection.
The reporter will contact the Department of Human Services by telephone as soon as possible to make an official notification on:
Crisis line 131 278
Loddon Mallee 1800 675 598
Bendigo (03) 5434 5555
All reports, information sheets and subsequent discussions and information are to be recorded and shall remain strictly confidential in a locked file.
Protection for reporters
If a report is made in good faith then:
- it does not constitute unprofessional conduct or a breach of professional ethics;
- the reporter cannot be held legally liable;
- it does not constitute a breach of s. 141 of the Health Services Act or s. 120A of the Mental Health Act.
- A reporter who makes a report in accordance with the legislation is not liable for the eventual outcome of any investigation.
Confidentiality for reporters
Confidentiality is provided for reporters in the CYFA and prevents the disclosure of the name or any information likely to lead to the identification of a person who has made a report in accordance with the legislation except in very specific circumstances.
The identity of a reporter must remain confidential, unless:
- the reporter chooses to inform the child or family of the report;
- the reporter consents in writing to their identity as the reporter being disclosed;
- a court or tribunal decides that it needs this information in order to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the child;
- a court or tribunal decides that in the interests of justice the evidence needs to be given.
For detailed information, refer to Advice Number 1090 'Information sharing in Child Protection practice'
Failure to report
A mandated professional who fails to report a 'belief based on reasonable grounds that a child is in need of protection' because of physical or sexual abuse is liable to be prosecuted under s. 184(1), CYFA.
Members of the Department of Human Services, or associated support or intervention services that visit the school following a notification, will interview staff and children only in the presence of a Principal, class member or his/her nominee.
Staff are required to report reoccurring incidents as they arise.
For follow up confidential staff support, staff members can notify Catholic Care Sandhurst on 1800 222 125. This is a complimentary service for Sandhurst employees for adequate supervision purposes.
This policy will be reviewed as part of the school’s three-year review.
Ratified: January 2016