Mandatory Reporting of Child Abuse
Reporting of child abuse is a legal requirement
It has been the expectation of the Diocese that all church workers regard themselves as mandatory reporters. From 1 March 2020, the mandatory reporter groups in NSW will be expanded to include persons in religious ministry or persons providing religion-based activities to children. We understand this to include all bishops, priests and deacons as well as all those who hold a licence from the Bishop. We understand this to include every person in a parish involved with ministry to children.
When is a mandatory reporter required to make a report?
A mandatory reporter must make a report when they have reasonable grounds to suspect that a child is at risk of significant harm and those grounds arise in the course of, or from their work or role. A mandatory reporter has a duty to report, as soon as practicable, the name, or a description, of the child and the grounds for suspecting that the child is at risk of significant harm
What support is available to help mandatory reporters decide whether to make a report?
Mandatory reporters should use the Mandatory Reporter Guide (MRG) to help decide whether a child is suspected to be at risk of significant harm and, if so, a report should be made.
The MRG is a Structured Decision Making (®SDM) tool intended to complement mandatory reporters’ professional judgement and critical thinking. The MRG supports mandatory reporters in NSW to:
- Determine whether a report to the Department of Communities and Justice is needed.
- Identify alternative supports for vulnerable children, young people and their families.
The MRG works by posing specific questions that help reporters work systematically through the issues relating to the concerns they have about a child. At the end of the process, a decision report will guide the reporter as to what action to take. The MRG can be accessed at https://reporter.childstory.nsw.gov.au/s/mrg.
Mandatory reporters are protected from liability for defamation and civil and criminal liability. A mandatory report does not constitute a breach of professional etiquette or ethics, or amount to unprofessional conduct. All mandatory reporters are legally protected against retribution for making, or proposing to make, a report.
How are reports made?
Mandatory reporters can call the NSW Child Protection Helpline on 132 111. The Child Protection Helpline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Mandatory reporters can also register to submit a child protection report (eReport) directly through the following website: https://reporter.childstory.nsw.gov.au/s/
Once registered, mandatory reporters:
- can create eReports after running the MRG
- will be notified by email when there is a change of status for one of their reports
- can log in to the ChildStory Reporter Community website to see the status of any previous reports they have submitted.
You can access a training course on mandatory reporting here.