Stage Legislation & Reporting - ACT
The Department of Community Services
is responsible for overseeing and upholding child protection in the ACT.
Numerous Acts (laws) help to govern and guide this process of child protection
in the ACT. These acts include:
- The Children and Young People Act 2008
Other relevant Acts:
- Adoption Act 1993
- Human Rights Act 2004
- Human Rights Commission Act 2005
- Public Advocate Act 2005
- Family Law Act 1975
For a useful overview of all issues relating to child sexual abuse and child protection legislation and mechanisms in the ACT, see Keeping young children and young people safe, a DHCS report released in 2012.
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 to report incidences of child abuse. 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 356 (2) of the Children and Young People Act 2008 lists the following people as mandated to report in the Australian Capital Territory:
- registered dentist within the meaning given by the dentists Act 1931, section 3.
- person who is an enrolled nurse or a registered nurse within the meaning of the Nurses Act 1988, section 3.
- teacher at a school, includes a teacher’s assistant or aide if the assistant or aide is in paid employment at the school
- police officer
- person employed to counsel children or young people at a school
- person caring for a child at a child-care centre
- person coordinating or monitoring the provision of home based care on behalf of a family day care scheme licensee
- public servant who, in the course of employment, provides services related to health or wellbeing of children, young people or families.
- community advocate
- official visitor
- a person who, in the course of the person’s employment, has contact with or provides services to children, young people and their families and is prescribed by regulation.
Section 356 (1) of the Act states that a mandated person commits an offence if:
- the person believes on reasonable ground that a child or young person has experienced, or is experiencing –
- sexual abuse; or
- non-accidental physical injury; and
- the person’s reasons for the belief arise from information obtained by the person during the course of, or because of, the person’s work (whether paid or unpaid); and
- the person does not, as soon as practicable after forming the belief, report (a mandatory report) to the chief executive –
- the child’s or young person’s name or description; and
- the reasons for the person’s belief
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 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 and Youth Protection Services: 1300 556 729. This service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For more information on making a report visit Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect on the Community Services website.
National Child Abuse Helpline: 1800 99 10 99. This helpline operates Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm AEST.
There are also support services across ACT that can assist and advise you through the process of making a report. For more information, visit our Support Services page.