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State Legislation & Reporting - NT 

 

Local Legislation

 

The Department of Health and Families is responsible for overseeing and upholding child protection in the NT. Numerous Acts (laws) help to govern and guide the process of child protection in the Northern Territory. These acts include:

Principal Acts:

  • Care and Protection of Children Act 2007

 

Other relevant Acts:

  • Information Act 2006
  • Disability Services Act 2004
  • Criminal Code Act 2006
  • Family Law Act 1975

 

For more information on the  Care and Protection of Children Act, visit the  Legislation  page on the Department of Health and Families website.

Reporting Child Abuse


What is reportable?


Outcomes or actions from which children are in need of protection include; neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, domestic violence and psychological harm. These are all reportable offences.

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    helpline@childwise.org.au

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 sexual abuse. These people are called "mandated reporters" and they MUST report to The Department of Health and Families if they believe on reasonable grounds that a child is in need of protections. Penalties may apply to mandated reporters who fail to report suspected abuse.

Who is mandated to report suspected abuse?


Section 26 (1) of the Care and Protection of Children Act 2007 imposes a legal responsibility on EVERY PERSON in the Northern Territory to report child abuse and neglect and cases where children have been or are likely to be a victim of sexual offence. It states:
A person is guilty of an offence if the person believes on reasonable grounds any of the following:

  • a child has suffered or is likely to suffer harm or exploitation;
  • a child aged less than 14 years has been or is likely to be a victim of as sexual offence;
  • a child has been or is likely to be a victim of an offence against section 128 of the Criminal Code 

and does not as soon as possible after forming that belief, report (orally or in writing) to the CEO or a police officer:

  • that belief; and
  • any knowledge of the person forming the grounds for that belief; and
  • any factual circumstances on which that knowledge is based.

 

Additionally, Section 26 (2) of the Care and Protection of Children Act 2007 states:
A person is guilty of an offence if the person is a health practitioner or someone who performs work of a kind that is prescribed by regulation; and believes on reasonable grounds:

  • that a child aged at least 14 years (but less than 16 years) has been or is likely to be a victim of sexual offence; and
  • that the difference in age between the child and alleged sexual offender is more than 2 years 

and does not, as soon as possible after forming that belief, report (orally or in writing) to the CEO or a police officer:

  • that belief; and
  • any knowledge of the person forming the grounds for that belief; and
  • any factual circumstances on which that knowledge is based.

 

Registered Health practitioners include: aboriginal health workers, chiropractors, dentists; dental hygienists; dental prosthetists, dental specialists; dental therapists, medical practitioners; midwives; registered nurses authorised to practice midwifery; registered and enrolled nurses, occupation therapists; optometrists; osteopaths; pharmacists; physiotherapists, psychologists and radiographers.

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

 

The preferred method of reporting harm to children within the Northern Territory is by phone through the Central Intake Team of the Northern Territory Families and Children (NTFC) Division, within the Department of Health and Families on: 1800 700 250.  This hotline operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

If you need to report an offence that requires immediate police attention, please call:

Police Emergency: 000

Darwin Police: (08) 8901 0200

Alice Springs Police: (08) 8951 8822

For a further detailed report on how to report child abuse and neglect go to the   Child Abuse section of the Department of Health and Families.

 

If 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 can telephone:

National Child Abuse Helpline: 1800 99 10 99. This helpline operates   Monday to Friday,  9am-5pm AEST. 


There are also support services across Northern Territory that can assist and  advise you through the process of making a report. For more information,  visit our       Support Services page.

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