State Legislation & Training - SA
The Department for Child Protection
is responsible for overseeing and upholding child protection in South
Australia. Numerous Acts (laws) help to govern the process of child protection
in South Australia. These Acts include:
- Children's Protection Act 1993 (as amended in 2006)
Other relevant Acts/Legislation:
- Young Offenders Act 1994
- Adoption Act 1988
- Family Law Act 1975
- Family and Community Services Act 1972
For more information on child protection in South Australia, visit the Child Protection section of Department for Families and Communities website.
Reporting Child Abuse
What is reportable?
Outcomes or actions from which children are in
need of protection include neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional
maltreatment and exposure to family violence. These are all reportable
What are reasonable grounds?
You do not need to have proof to report any concerns you have about the safety of a child under 16 or a young person. Indicators that represent reasonable grounds to report a suspected offence include:
- A child or young person discloses that he or she has suffered or is suffering non accidental physical injury or sexual abuse
- Someone else advises you that a child or young person has been sexually abused or non-accidentally injured, or
- Your own observations of the child or young person's physical condition or behaviours lead you to reasonably suspect that the child or young person has suffered or is suffering non-accidental physical injury or sexual abuse.
For more information, you can email one of our qualified staff at Child Wise at firstname.lastname@example.org
Can anyone report concerns for the safety of a child or young person?
ANY person who believes, on reasonable grounds, that a child is in need of protection may voluntarily report to Child Protection Services.
- You do not have to prove that abuse has taken place. You only need reasonable grounds for your belief.
- You do not need permission from parents or caregivers to make a report; nor do they need to be informed that a report is being made.
- If you made a report in good faith, you cannot be held legally liable - regardless of the outcome of the report.
- Your identity will remain confidential unless you need to give evidence if the matter goes to court. It is rare that this happens.
What is mandatory reporting?
Mandatory reporting describes the legal obligation of certain professionals and community members in South Australia to report incidences of child sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse and neglect. These people are called ‘mandated reporters’ and they MUST report to Child Protection Services if they believe on reasonable grounds that a child is in need of protection. Penalties may apply to mandated reporters who fail to report suspected abuse.
Who is mandated to report suspected abuse?
Section 11(1) of the Children's Protection Act 1993 (as amended in 2006) states:
If a person suspects on reasonable grounds that a child has been or is being abused or neglected and the suspicion is formed in the course of the person's work (whether paid or voluntary) or of carrying out official duties, the person must notify the Department of that suspicion as soon as practicable after he or she forms the suspicion.
Section 11 (2) requires the following persons to notify the Department of abuse and neglect which includes:
- a medical practitioner;
- a pharmacist;
- a registered or enrolled nurse;
- a dentist;
- a psychologist;
- police officer
- a community corrections officer (an officer or employee of an administrative unit of the Public Service whose duties include the supervision of young or adult offenders in the community)
- a social worker;
a minister of religion;
- a person who is an employee of, or volunteer in, an organisation
- formed for religious or spiritual purposes;
- a teacher in an educational institution (including a kindergarten);
- an approved family day care provider;
- any other person who is an employee of, or volunteer in, a Government
- department, agency or instrumentality, or a local government or, non-government organisation that provides health, welfare, education, sporting or recreational, child care or residential services wholly or partly for children, being a person who –
engaged in the actual delivery of those services to children; or
- holds a management position in the relevant organisation the duties of which include direct responsibility for, or direct supervision of, the provision of those services to children.
A notification under this section must be accompanied by a statement of the observations, information and opinions on which the suspicion is based. This section does not require a priest or other minister of religion to divulge information communicated in the course of a confession made in accordance with the rules and usages of the relevant religion. A person does not necessarily exhaust his or her duty of care to a child by giving a notification under this section.
Note: Under the law you are only mandated within your professional context. In relation to your experiences after hours you have no mandate to report, however, you may consider that you have an ethical duty to do so.
For more information on mandatory reporting of all state and territories, visit the Australian Institute of Family Studies website
Who to report to and how
If you need to report an offence that requires immediate police attention, please call the Police: 000
you suspect on reasonable grounds that a child is suffering abuse or
neglect or you wish to discuss your concerns about a child or young
person, you should telephone:
Child Abuse Report Line: 131 478. This hotline operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
National Child Abuse Helpline: 1800 99 10 99. This helpline operates Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm AEST.
For more information about what you as concerned member of the public need to include in your report, see the Department for Child Protection’s page on reporting child abuse
There are also support services across South Australia that can assist and advise you through the process of making a report. For more information, visit our Support Services page