Reporting obligations to other agencies
Educators in education and care services are ‘mandatory reporters’ under NSW child protection law. That means they have responsibilities to report certain matters to FaCS when they have reasonable grounds to suspect that a child is at risk of significant harm, and those grounds arise during the course of or from the person’s work.
Mandatory reports must be made as soon as practicable.
A report to FaCS must be made when services have concerns about the safety, welfare and wellbeing of a child for any of the following reasons:
- the basic physical or psychological needs of the child or young person are not being met (neglect)
- the parents or caregivers have not arranged necessary medical care for the child or young person (unwilling or unable to do so)
- the parents or caregivers have not arranged for the child or young person to receive an education in accordance with the Education Act 1990 (unwilling or unable to do so)
- risk of physical or sexual abuse or ill-treatment
- parent or caregiver’s behaviour towards the child causes or risks serious psychological harm (emotional abuse)
- incidents of domestic violence and as a consequence a child or young person is at risk of serious physical or psychological harm (domestic or family violence)
- the child was the subject in a prenatal report and the birth mother did not engage successfully with support services.
The Mandatory Reporter Guide (MRG) on the ChildStory website is a useful resource to assist providers and Educators in determining if a report should be made is. The MRG is a structured decision-making tool intended to complement mandatory reporters’ professional judgement and critical thinking.
Two ways mandatory reporters can make a child protection report are:
- eReport through the Child Story Reporter website
- Calling the Child Protection Helpline 132 111 (Available 24/7)
To determine if a report needs to be made to FaCS and identify alternative supports for vulnerable children, mandatory reporters should check the Mandatory Reporter Guide.
Reportable allegations against an employee must be reported to the NSW Ombudsman by the Head of Agency (or delegate), as soon as practicable, and in any event, within 30 days of the Head of Agency becoming aware.
The reportable conduct scheme is allegation-based, which means the trigger for notifying the NSW Ombudsman is only that a reportable allegation has been made.
The NSW Ombudsman can help you with advice on whether or not to notify, and on what early risk management steps you may need to consider. Sometimes agencies need help with obtaining information from other child protection bodies. If so, the NSW Ombudsman can also help with information sharing.
Even if you suspect the allegation is false, for whatever reason, you must notify the NSW Ombudsman. If, after investigation, the evidence positively shows that the allegation is false, you can then record a finding of ‘false’, in fairness to the employee. However, by law, you must notify the NSW Ombudsman.
A reportable allegation includes:
- Sexual offences or sexual misconduct committed against, with or in the presence of a child (including child pornography)
- Any assault, ill-treatment or neglect of a child
- Any behaviour that causes psychological harm to a child
- Any offence under section 43B or 316A of the Crimes Act 1900, and
- Any misconduct that may involve the conduct outlined above.
More detailed information about the reportable conduct scheme can be found on the NSW Ombudsman website:
- Training video on the reportable conduct scheme – a guide for early childhood and Outside School Hours Care educators
If you’re not sure whether the allegation is reportable, you can call
the NSW Ombudsman’s telephone inquiry line
between 9 am to 4 pm, Monday to Friday:
1800 451 524 or (02) 9286 1021.
Under the section 88 of the NSW Public Health Act 2010, directors of a childcare facility must, as soon as practicable, notify the public health officer if they:
- become aware that a child enrolled at the facility has a vaccine preventable disease, or
- reasonably suspect that a child enrolled at the facility who is a child at risk has come into contact with a person who has a vaccine preventable disease.
Examples of vaccine preventable diseases are meningococcal disease, measles and mumps. A full list is available on the NSW Health website
A public health officer may direct the childcare facility to take certain action in relation to the notification, such as to give notice to a parent that a child is not to attend the facility for the duration of the outbreak of the disease.
Directors are also encouraged to seek advice from their local Public Health Unit when they suspect an infectious disease outbreak is affecting their centre, e.g. gastro.
Two or more children with vomiting and/or diarrhoea in a facility constitute a gastroenteritis outbreak and the local public health unit should be notified within 24 hours of each.
For more information on childhood infectious diseases and disease notification see ‘Staying healthy – Preventing infectious diseases in early childhood education and care services’
Call 1300 066 055 to contact with the Public Health Unit of your Local Health District to make a notification.
Any conduct that may meet a criminal threshold should be reported to the NSW Police. Agencies should follow police direction in a criminal matter which may impact upon their own investigative or risk management response.
The NSW Government has recently amended the criminal law to strengthen the protection of children through the introduction of two new offences:
1. Failure to protect a child from child abuse
An adult working in an institution, doing child related work, will commit an offence if they know another adult working there poses a serious risk of abusing a child and they have the power to reduce or remove the risk, and they fail to do so.
2. Failure to report child abuse
An adult is required to report information to police if they know, believe or reasonably ought to know that a child has been abused. Failing to report information to police without a reasonable excuse* is an offence.
*Some reasonable excuses for not reporting include:
- the victim is now an adult and doesn’t want the offence to be reported; or
- the offence has already been reported to the FaCS (Child Story Reporter website or Child Protection Helpline 132 111) or
- if the person fears for their safety or another person’s safety if they report.
For more information please read the following factsheet.
The provision in the crimes legislation can be accessed here.
Links to other resources