Reporting incidents and concerns
Download the Responding to incidents, disclosures and suspicions of child abuse (PDF, 126KB) - a resource designed to support ECEC staff with their reporting requirements
It is important that all staff in ECEC services drive a culture of advocacy for children. If you are concerned or have a suspicion that a child is at risk of abuse, harm, neglect or ill-treatment, you should talk to someone about it. You should refer to your service’s policies and procedures on child safety, child protection or complaints handling to understand who you can talk to.
It is important that any concerns or suspicions you may have are discussed with an appropriate person, this might include your manager or supervisor and/or a relevant agency. If you are worried that your concerns have not been appropriately addressed, you should contact a relevant agency for more information. Information on which relevant agency you should report to is below.
Reporting and legal obligations
ECEC staff have reporting requirements to different agencies under the following laws:
- NSW Police - Crimes Act 1900
- NSW Department Communities and Justice: Mandatory Reporting - the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998
- NSW Department of Education: notifying incidents, complaints and allegations - Education and Care Services National Regulations
- Office of the Children’s Guardian: Reportable Conduct Scheme - Children’s Guardian Act 2019.
The NSW Department of Education administers the regulation of services in accordance with the Children (Education and Care Services) National Law and the Education and Care Services National Regulations. When reporting an incident to the Department, depending on the circumstances of the report, you should consider if a report is also required for any of the other relevant agencies.
When to report to:
If you are concerned that a child’s immediate safety is compromised, this should be reported to the NSW Police by calling 000.
Any conduct towards a child that you suspect may be criminal in nature should also be reported to the NSW Police.
Services should follow police direction on a criminal matter, which may impact upon their own investigative or risk management response.
This factsheet may help to identify conduct that is criminal in nature. If you are unsure if it is a criminal matter, call the Police Assistance Line on 131 444.
Educators in centre-based and family day care education and care services are ‘mandatory reporters’ under NSW child protection law.
Mandatory reporters must make a report to the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) when they have current concerns about the safety, welfare or 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
- the parents’ or caregivers’ behaviour towards the child causes or risks serious psychological harm (emotional abuse)
- incidents of domestic violence are placing a child or young person 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.
There are two ways you can make a child protection report:
- by calling the Child Protection Helpline on 132 111
- by eReport through the ChildStory Reporter website.
If you are a mandatory reporter in NSW and you have concerns that a child or young person is at risk of being neglected or abused, you should use the NSW Mandatory Reporter Guide to determine whether a report is needed.
Further information can be found on the Department of Communities and Justice website.
The Reportable Conduct Scheme is administered by the Office of the Children’s Guardian under the Children’s Guardian Act 2019.
The scheme keeps children safe by monitoring how certain organisations (‘relevant entities’) investigate and report on types of conduct ('reportable allegations' or 'reportable convictions') made against their employees, volunteers or certain contractors who provide services to children. Relevant entities include approved education and care services, including family day care.
When the head of a relevant entity (for example, the approved provider) becomes aware of a reportable allegation or reportable conviction, they must notify the Office of the Children's Guardian within 7 business days and conduct an investigation into the allegations.
Information and resources are available on the Office of the Children’s Guardian website
- Fact sheets to assist you to understand and meet your reportable conduct scheme responsibilities. Topics include identifying reportable allegations, heads of entities and reportable conduct responsibilities, planning and conducting investigations, keeping records, disclosing information to children, parents and carers, and FAQs
- Notification forms
If you have any questions about the scheme, please contact the Reportable Conduct Enquiries Line on (02) 8219 3800 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Approved providers are required to notify the regulatory authority within 7 days of:
- any incident where the approved provider reasonably believes that physical or sexual abuse of a child or children has occurred or is occurring while the child is being educated and cared for by the service
- allegations that physical or sexual abuse of a child or children has occurred or is occurring while the child is being educated and cared for by the service; and
- any circumstance at the service that poses a risk to the health, safety or wellbeing of a child attending the service
Notifications should be made through NQA ITS*.
When the Department receives a notification of an incident or allegation of child physical or sexual abuse, the Department will conduct a preliminary assessment and may obtain further details from the service.
The notification may be forwarded to the Department’s investigation team where investigators may visit the service and speak with educators and staff about the incident/s or allegation/s. They may provide support with the service’s response, for example, reminding the service of their reporting obligations to other agencies.
When conducting an investigation, the Department will ensure ongoing liaison with the service and families.
The Department can share information with other relevant authorities, including the NSW Police, Department of Communities and Justice, and Office of the Children’s Guardian. The Department’s investigators may liaise with these agencies to establish facts about the incident/s or allegation/s and determine whether an offence against the National Law and/or Regulations has been or is being committed.
The NSW Police, Department of Communities and Justice and Office of the Children’s Guardian have different legislative powers and may make other determinations in relation to the incident/s or allegation/s.
* Mobile and occasional care services can use the notification forms found here.
Navigating child safety reporting obligations webinar
On 28 March 2022, the NSW Department of Education and NSW Department of Communities and Justice presented a session on navigating child safety reporting obligations. The session aimed to enhance the safety of children in ECEC and OSHC services by supporting educators and leaders in understanding their reporting obligations and navigating reporting child safety issues or child protection concerns to the relevant agencies.
Please note, that some of the scenarios discussed in the webinar involve sensitive issues that may raise strong emotions for some viewers. If you feel impacted, please feel free to skip this section, and seek support if needed.
Good afternoon, everybody. I think we might make a start now. It's 1:33 and I just wanna respect the time of those that have been able to join us on time and if a few people continue to join that won't cause too much of a problem. Welcome to today's webinar on Navigating Child Safety and Reporting Obligations. It's great to see so many people joining. My name's Shane Snibson and I'll be introducing the session today. I'm the Director of Regulatory Strategy Policy and Practice at New South Wales Department of Education. Today I'll also be joined by Karl Salau, who's a Hub coordinator within our regulatory branch and part of the team here at Department of Education. We'll also be joined by our colleagues in Communities and Justice. And we have Lisa Tesoriero, Manager of Practice and Permanency who also presenting, which we're really fortunate to able to do this as across agency webinar. To begin, I would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land that we're all meeting on. I think we're good to go to a video now.
[Narrator] We acknowledge the first Australians as the traditional custodians of the continent, whose culture is the oldest living culture in human history We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging and we respect their cultural heritages, beliefs and relationship with the land. We extend our respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people here today. They share the memories, traditions and hopes of the traditional ancestors with the new generations, today and in the future. We would also like to thank them for looking after this land for thousands of years.
I'd also like to add that I'm joining you from Dharawal land and I'd like to pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging and also extend that respect further to any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander attendees joining us today. I hope to not talk for too long just to set up the session, do a little bit of housekeeping with you. Your microphone video and chat functions will be disabled during this webinar. That's just to help, you know, that unfortunate person who might accidentally not be on mute, et cetera, interrupt the session. We will encourage you though to use the Q&A function which you'll find at the bottom of your screen. Hopefully you are familiar with using Zoom and can navigate that okay. If you wanna ask some questions during the session, you can then just simply type your question into the Q&A. You'll also see and be able to vote on other people's questions which you might also like to answer using the Thumbs Up button. We will prioritise questions with the most votes and try and answer these during the webinar. What I will say is we have factored in a bit of time and space for questions. We know that, that interactive part of our webinar is important and our ambition is to be able to answer as many questions as we can noting that if there's some questions we can't get to, or aren't able to answer on the day, we'll then collate them and provide them out to everyone who's attended. We will be using Menti during the session. Some of you might already familiar with that. I guess just from my perspective, please just have your phone or another web browser ready, so when the time comes, you can scan or enter the code on the screen and can participate in some of our interactive parts of the webinar. And the session is also being recorded and it will be published on our website over the next couple of weeks so that you can review the content or encourage colleagues to have a look as well. I think the other thing that's really important just to note is a precursor for this session, just the content of the webinar. This session will bring up some case examples to work through, it will make reference to abuse and just a word of caution that some of the topics may cause some distress for some of you, we just wanna give you a warning that there will be some, you know, some of those types of sensitive topics referred to in this webinar and it's okay then if you would like to leave during those parts or, you know, obviously seek some support. If we move to the next slide. We've provided some opportunities if you do find after the session that you've had some emotional impact or need to take some time out to seek support that there's a range of options, obviously your own services will and line management will be there to support you and would have some things in place but we've just thought it would be just respectful and responsible of us to give you some options. If you have some impact, we'll also provide these options at the end of the session just in case you want us to refer to them. Just moving on to the agenda and I try not to keep you too long. We will start with an overview of the agencies you or your organisation may need to report to, if you are faced with the child safety or child protection concern. We then have Karl presenting on functions of the New South Wales, Department of Education's Regulatory Authority. What happens when you make a notification including triage and investigation processes and resources and support. Karl will also provide an overview of how the Office of the Children's Guardian also fit into the picture. And following that, Department of Communities and Justice will presenting on reporting requirements for mandatory reporters and what to do if your report doesn't meet the reporting threshold. And then finally, and the part I'm most looking forward to is we'll finish the session going through some practical examples that you might be faced with and help illustrate how and what reporting to different agencies looks like in those situations. That's all for me. I'll now pass over to Karl to start talking about the perspective from the regulatory body and obviously they're moving into some commentary from the Office of Children's Guardian. Thanks, Karl and welcome and I just wanna wish everyone a good little while and hopefully there's some value in this webinar as we move through. Thank you. Over to you Karl.
Thanks Shane. As Shane has mentioned, my name's Karl. I work as a Hub coordinator for the Regulator. My team is the Eastern Metro team within the Statewide Operations Network. So essentially we formed part of the New South Wales Regulatory Authority. Many of you would've met some of my colleagues who have visited your services over the time as well as visited for assessment and rating. So there are four key agencies when it comes to reporting of child safety issues or child protection concerns. They consist of the New South Wales Regulatory Authority within the Department of Education. Every state and territory has their own Regulatory Authority under the NQF or the National Quality Framework. Another aspect is the New South Wales Department of Communities and Justice, formerly known as Family and Community Services or FACS. There's the New South Wales Office of the Children's Guardian, or we commonly refer to as OCG and the last one is New South Wales Police Force. So, with relevant legislation staff working in Early Childhood Education and outside school hours care services, have obligations to report to different agencies under the following laws. For the New South Wales Department of Education approved providers, nominated supervisors and educators all play a role in ensuring that the department is notified of incidents, complaints and allegations under the Education and Care Services National Regulations. For the New South Wales Department of Communities and Justice, mandatory reporters, for example, educators in centre-based and family day care services must make a notification if they have current concerns about the safety, welfare, and wellbeing of a child under the Children and Young Person's Care and Protection Act of 1998. For the Office of the Children's Guardian, a person who's considered the head of a relevant entity, for example, an approved provider must notify the Reportable Conduct Scheme of reportable allegations or convictions under the Children's Guardian Act 2019. Responsibility for the Reportable Conduct Scheme, moved from the New South Wales Ombudsman to the Office of Children Guardian in March, 2020. And finally for the New South Wales Police Force, essentially if you're concerned around a child's immediate safety is compromised or concerns about conduct towards a child that could be criminal in nature, you must report it to the police. Now that falls under the Crimes Act 1900 and applies to all adults in New South Wales. The New South Wales Department of Education has developed a resource to support services in their reporting requirements. This resource follows the steps that should be taken following an incident, disclosure or suspicions of child abuse. In step two, the relevant agencies are listed requiring a report across different situations with a brief explanation on when you may be required to report. The relevant agencies listed in the resource are the same four I've mentioned on the previous slide. The New South Wales Department of Education, the New South Wales Office of the Children's Guardian under the Reportable Conduct Scheme, the New South Wales Department of Communities and Justice For Child Protection and the New South Wales Police Force. Now I move into the next part of the agenda on reporting to the New South Wales Regulatory Authority. The functions of the New South Wales Regulatory Authority, we as a whole monitor, support and regulate early childhood education services in New South Wales. We work to ensure the delivery of quality early education, for children from birth, up to and including school age. We work with a range of stakeholders, including providers, early childhood academics, peak bodies and professionals who work with children across a range of early childhood environments. To support services, to provide the best possible outcomes for children. Support for services might include delivering training, or resources, responding to inquiries, or engagement with our continuous improvement team. As the New South Wales Regulatory Authority for Early Childhood Education and outside school hours care services, we are responsible under the national law and regulations for ensuring we meet their requirements under the National Quality Framework. We are responsible for regulating over 5800 services in the early childhood and outside school hours care sector to ensure the safety, wellbeing, learning, growth and development of children. Consistent with the objectives of the NQF, the approach to enforcement and compliance is to ensure safety, health and wellbeing of children, improve children's educational and developmental outcomes, promote continuous quality improvement in education and care services. When required, the New South Wales Regulatory Authority will take actions that are proportionate to the issue and is most likely to achieve improved outcomes for children. When deciding how to respond to an incident or an issue, we consider the circumstances of each case and the risk to children, both short term and long term. We also may take into account the compliance history of the approved provider or the approved service. And how do we do this? There are two arms that make up the New South Wales Regulatory Authority. Earlier you heard from Shane who was responsible for the Regulatory Strategy Policy and Practice area. This team is responsible for activities such as resolving policy or regulatory issues, providing sector support initiatives and processing service and provider approvals. The other arm is the area I work in. That's the State Operations Network. The functions in this area include teams of authorised officers and field officers across New South Wales, triage and investigation teams and this also includes the continuous improvement team and it's worth noting with all of that, the two work hand in hand and in partnership to achieve all of our aims. So how and when to report to the New South Wales Regulatory Authority. Approved providers, nominated supervisors, coordinators and educators have a responsibility for supporting the health, protection, safety and wellbeing of all children and a part of this is ensuring that you take reasonable care to protect children from foreseeable risk of harm and injury. Meeting these responsibilities is crucial to delivering quality outcomes for children under the NQF. Approved providers are required to notify the Department of Education or the New South Wales Regulatory Authority about incidents, complaints and changes to information. However, depending on the staffing structure at your service educators and other staff working directly with children and families are often best positioned to identify situations where a notification is needed. So how to notify the New South Wales Regulatory Authority. If you're a long daycare, family day care, preschool, or outside school hours care, the approved provider must notify the New South Wales Regulatory Authority of prescribed incidents, allegations and complaints. This is done via the National Quality Agenda IT System through ACECQA. Notifications are lodged through the NQAITS portal that is housed on the ACECQA website but those notifications are managed by the Regulatory Authority in each state and territory. Now I just wanna take a moment to clarify the difference between ACECQA and the Regulatory Authority. ACECQA as commonly known as the Australian Children's Education and Care Quality Authority, is an independent national authority that assists governments in administering the National Quality Framework for children at education care services, is not involved in the assessment and rating of services, or deal with complaints, or investigate incidents, or regulate in any other way oversee the New South Wales Regulatory Authority. The New South Wales Regulatory Authority, administers the NQF and manages notifications, conducts investigations, conducts assessment and rating and all other compliance visits. If you're a mobile occasional care, or multifunctional Aboriginal children's service or a MAC service, your approved provider must also notify the Regulatory Authority of prescribed incidents, allegations and complaints. This is done using in the notifications form on our approvals process page. Now when submitting a notification, it must be made within the prescribed timeframe of the notification type and more information can be added at a later stage. It must be made regardless of whether or not the parent, family, or carer, has requested further information or information about the incident or complaint. Contain consistent and accurate information, for example, time of the incident and the people involved, especially the names. Now what to include. It is important to understand the type of information that must be included in a notification of an incident. So when you are recording the details of an incident, you know what information needs to be documented. It is likely the incident forms you're using at your service will already ask for most of these details. The approved provider will fill in the information requested on the form, about the service name, service and the names of people involved. It needs a clear description of what happened, including any reasons if they are known. For example, a child has slipped over because there was water on the floor from water play. The outcome of the incident. Now, for example, were there any injuries, details of any first aid or other medical treatment and the outcome of that treatment. Again, there are going to be times where you have limited information because there's other information that can be obtained after the fact. So for example, after the child has been to see their medical practitioner, you can grab that information at a later date and provide that in as well, the time and date and location of the incident, information about supervision and educator to child ratios at the time of the incident, whether notifications have been made to parents, families, or carers, whether notifications have been made to other government agencies, for example, the Department of Communities and Justice, or the Office of the Children's Guardian and if possible, if you do have it, include the reference number, if available. Information about any internal investigation intended to be undertaken or already in progress, supporting documentation, such as an incident report, photographs of an injury, or location, or a medical report. And another key point is the risk mitigation measures that are or will be taken by the service to prevent a similar incident happening again, or what may be in place to prevent this for the next time. Information to include in a notification of a complaint. The full names of all people, for example, staff, parents, and children who were involved, contact details of the person making the complaint, if available, a clear description of the complaint, information about any internal investigation intended to be undertaken or already in progress, or supporting documents, for example, a copy of the complaint, if made by letter or email. Once that information's all come through to the Regulatory Authority, we pass that information through a triage and review process. After submitting the notification, it comes through to our triage and review team where they review and assess all notifications to ensure that they're actioned appropriately. Full and accurate information helps to ensure the right response can be made and action taken quickly to ensure the health, safety, and wellbeing of children. A member of the team may contact the service directly if further information or clarification is required. The response to a notification, will depend on the circumstances. For example, a response to a notification could be a service visit by an authorised officer, a formal investigation into a possible breach of the National Law or Regulation, information shared with another government agency or New South Wales Police to protect a child from the risk of harm or no further action when there is no evidence that a breach of the law and no risk to children and where the service response to the incident or complaint is appropriate and sufficient. The investigation process as a Regulatory Authority, the department conducts investigations to ensure compliance with the national law and regulations. An investigation is a process of seeking information about an alleged, apparent, or potential breach of the national law. When a complaint or notification is of a more serious matter, it is referred for formal investigation. The investigation begins with contacting the people involved in the complaint or incident. After that, an investigator will visit the service and develop an investigation plan. Evidence is assessed, identifying whether a breach of the national law has been proven, and the investigator will conduct it in three phases. Phase one, the initial information. Investigation is assigned to investigator, the investigator assesses the information to determine the required action. Phase two, which is the plan. The investigation plan is developed to inform direction and ensure the consistency of the investigation. Phase three, to actually conduct the investigation. The investigator conducts field inquiries, obtains and examines records, interviews witnesses and affected people. And phase four, finalise the investigation and prepare a report of evidence. The investigator prepares a report of the investigation, including evidence, findings and recommendations. The final report is then reviewed by a senior investigator and the manager of compliance investigations. Managing risks in New South Wales. To give you a sense of the volume of notifications that are received by the department. In 2021, we received 10,195 notifications. These notifications were assessed and reviewed and then allocated to the appropriate team to action. There are a number of outcomes that can result from a notification including, a compliance action. They may be handed over to another team, or another case created with further investigation, or there may be no further action taken. Service visits are not only for the purpose of assessment and rating and quality improvement, service visits can help manage risk and supports, excuse me, and support services to enhance the health, safety and wellbeing of children. In 2021, there were 5,846 visits to services in New South Wales. In 2021, the most common types of serious incident notifications related to a child falling or tripping, a cut or wound, emergency services attended or ought to have attended, broken bone fracture or dislocation and child to child interactions. In addition to the reporting, one page resource mentioned earlier in the presentation, there are a number of other available resources. A handy table describing all notification types and timeframes for notifying the New South Wales Regulatory Authority. They can be accessed on the ACECQA website. Further information is provided on the ACECQA's Reporting Requirements about Children page. ACECQA have also released a helpful resource on how to use the NQAITS portal to submit a notification. The department's guide to Implementing The Child Safe Standards for ECE and OSHC Services. This guide includes strategies and tips for implementing a child safe culture with practical scenarios, including risk mitigation strategies and reflection questions for teams to discuss within your own individual service context. We'll pop a link to these resources in the chat for your reference. So I'm now gonna provide an overview of the New South Wales Reportable Conduct Scheme. The New South Wales Office of the Children's Guardian, or OCG, their core responsibility is to oversee organisations, to uphold children and young people's right to be safe. In relation to ECE and OSHC services, their key services include, managing Working With Children's Checks, implementing the Reportable Conduct Scheme, administering the Child Safe Scheme, requiring child-related organisations to implement the Child Safe Standards. The New South Wales Reportable Conduct Scheme, monitors how organisations investigate and report on allegations of certain conduct towards children. The term "reportable conduct" refers to allegations or convictions of child abuse or misconduct towards children. Under the Reportable Conduct Scheme, all ECE and OSHC services are required to have systems in place for preventing, detecting and dealing with reportable conduct and reportable convictions. The head of the organisation known as the head of relevant entity, is ultimately responsible for making sure these systems are in place. These systems are aimed to keep children safe and ensure that employees are treated fairly when an allegation is investigated. The scheme is allegations based, therefore when reporting a reportable allegation to the OCG, there does not need to be any proof that the alleged conduct occurred, or that it is likely to have occurred. OCG must also be notified when an employee has a reportable conviction. A reportable conviction is when an employee is convicted of child abuse or misconduct towards children. The OCG must be notified of the reportable allegation or conviction within seven days of becoming aware of it. The Early Childhood Education and Care Services must respond to reportable allegations and convictions. This means the head of each service, may need to take steps to clarify the information they have received, to assess if there are any reportable allegations or convictions. They must report criminal offences to the police. They must report the risk of significant harm concerns for a child or a group of children, to the Child Protection Helpline as mandatory reporters, all employees must do this. They must assess and manage risk to the child, their employees and others. They may also need to consult with police and the Department of Communities and Justice before doing anything that might compromise an investigation. They must notify OCG of any reportable allegations or reportable convictions within seven business days. If you're unsure of, if you have a reportable allegation that requires notifying, please call the OCG Helpline to seek advice. For those of you who are not the head of the relevant entity, for example, an approved provider of a service, the most important thing for you to do, is report possible reportable conduct to your management, whether you believe it or not, so that they take the necessary steps that can be taken. It is not your responsibility to determine if an allegation is true. The scheme requires organisations, including ECE services to investigate the reportable allegations or make a determination about a reportable conviction. If the allegation is being assessed or investigated by police, or by the Department of Communities and Justice, OCG should still be notified, but any obligations to investigate the reportable allegations are suspended. The relevant entities obligations are also suspended, if the allegations are before the courts. The reason it is important to do so, is so any criminal investigation or prosecution, or child protection investigation is not compromised. Even telling an employee that an allegation has been made, might compromise an investigation. On a case by case basis, sometimes an organisation may be exempted, or required to defer from starting or continuing a reportable conduct investigation. Some of the reasons for this might include, the reportable allegation or reportable conviction was previously investigated, there is more than one employer with obligations under the scheme, it may compromise a future criminal investigation or prosecution and it poses an unacceptable risk to someone's safety. Notification and reports are submitted using the OCGs notification forms, which are available at Reportable Conduct Notification Forms on the the OCG website. The OCG have developed a very helpful e-learning module on this topic, which is available on their website if you would like to learn more about the Reportable Conduct Scheme. The link is on this slide and will also circulate this following the session as well as posting it in the chat as well. There are a range of other resources available on the OCG's website. These include e-Learning modules, including the course on Responding to Reportable Allegations, fact sheets, with information and guides to help organisations, covered by the Reportable Conduct Scheme. There are also other training webinars and resources available on the OCG's website to support embedding child safe cultures, including the safe series on protective behaviours for children, guides such as empowering children and introductions to implementing the Child Safe Standards. The New South Wales Department of Education work collaboratively with the OCG to support and tailor resources to meet the needs of the sector. For any questions, or more information on the Reportable Conduct Scheme, please contact that scheme on 82193800, or email email@example.com. I'll now hand things over to Lisa who will be presenting on the next section.
Hello all my name is Lisa Tesoriero, from the Department of Communities and Justice. I would like to acknowledge that we are all meeting on Aboriginal land. I'm coming to you from Dharawal land of the Gweagal people. I pay my respects to Elders, both past present and emerging. I extend that respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders online today. In New South Wales, Aboriginal children are grossly overrepresented across all social welfare systems. When it comes to the child protection, Aboriginal children are four times more likely to be reported at ROSH by age five, they're four times more likely to receive a face to face assessment and one of three of those children in saying, will be entering out of home care. There are close as 7,000 Aboriginal children in care across New South Wales with likely outcomes of disconnection and loneliness. My colleagues and I strive to make a difference every day and that's why this webinar is also really important for our Aboriginal community. I've been asked to speak to you today about DCJ and demystifying the process of making a report. DCJ is our current name, it changed in 2019 when the government brought FACS and justice together. You might know we us FACS or DOCS, we've also been called the bloody welfare before. Well, now we are a statutory child protection service, the largest in the Southern hemisphere. We respond to reports of children at serious risk of harm and attempt to support their families and create safety for children. We want children to remain safe at home. When this cannot happen, we bring children into care. We look to place them with extended family and if that fails, it's foster care. We support them until 18, as that's when we have parental responsibility for them but we can also support them until age 25 if needed. We have a 24 Hour Helpline that takes ROSH reports across New South Wales and we have Community Service Centres that you'll find in your local LGAs. Just wanted to show you quickly what a local service centre might look like. So we do call them CSCs. So they have a manager that oversees that office and under that manager, there are several other managers that have teams of case workers that sit under them. So some CSCs will have a triage team, an assessment team, a preservation team which might mean keeping families together and working with case plans with families or an out of home care team. I'm explaining the structure to you because we are slowly moving to a Hub in most of our districts. So reports from the Helpline may not necessarily go straight to your CSC, it may go to a Hub first, goes under another triage assessment before it gets to a CSC. I encourage you to find your local CSC and have their number. Call them, make contact with them before you really need to speak to them. Ask if they have a triage team there, or if they feed into a Hub. If it's a Hub, grab that phone number. Why am I getting you to do that? It's best to make those contacts and have the correct pathway before you become stressed and anxious when you are really worried about a child. We're encouraging contact with local centres or Hubs, as we wanna be more helpful to you and take some of the pressure off the Helpline. So what is Significant of Risk of harm or What we may call ROSH? Basically it's harm, that's serious enough, to need a response by a statutory authority, irrespective of the family's consent. It's the risk of abuse or neglect that's likely result in substantial impact on the child or the young person's, safety welfare and wellbeing. Now this type of report could be a single incident, or it could be an accumulation of worries that you've had. The next slide there is just really a visual about some numbers. The number of reports received by the Helpline have increased every year, for the last 10 years and has now doubled what was received in 2011-12, around the time of Keep Them Safe. The number of reports for child has also been consistently increasing, even more so for Aboriginal children. The reports have increased, though our staffing have not. We cannot respond to all the reports that meet the threshold. Mandatory reporters are driving the surge. Our biggest reporter is the Department of Education, followed by Health. Our non-government agencies and partners are also in the top five and they report the most non-ROSH. So you can see there's about 401,000 there, but I know that number today is sitting closer 450,000. So how do you make a report? If you're worried, what do you do? I would encourage you to talk to a peer, follow your own business policies and procedures and the first port of call after that would be the Mandatory Reporter Guide. This is a link that'll lead you to the E-report and there's a Helpline phone number there as well. But I encourage you to go through the Mandatory Reporter's guide. Why? Because it is a tool and a guide, especially for you, especially for mandatory reporters. It helps you understand what information is needed. It helps you to understand the threshold of a significant harm. The MRG can also guide you as to what to do next, what referral pathways are most appropriate and any other further responsibilities you as a mandatory reporter, may have in the assessment and documentation of that child's safety and wellbeing. If you've not used the Mandatory Reporter's Guide before, have a Google, find it, you can log in, you can register, you can actually have a play with that system, so you become familiar with it. Again before you're feeling a bit stressed and anxious and needing to actually use it 'cause you're worried about a child. It also has lots of helpful information and articles on that website as well. So, please have a look and see how that can help you. When you go into that, you'll see some decision trees. So the Mandatory Reporter Guide has eight risk of harm types that you can choose from. You select the risk of harm that relates most to the concerns you have for the child. You may have more than one concern and MRG also assists in determining which concerns poses the highest suspected risk of harm to that child. Once all the trees are completed, you will then action the highest outcome. A ROSH report outcome requires a report to be made to the Helpline, within 24 hours. If you get what's referred to as an I-ROSH outcome, that is immediate. So that is of high concern and we ask report that straight away. Just a sensitive content warning, the next three slides I touch on physical, sexual and domestic violence. Okay. Physical abuse. I'll let you have a read of the screen there. Just to get an idea of the level of information that makes it most helpful to when you're making a ROSH report. Description of the injury. Was it a bruise, a fracture or contact burn? Where on the body was it located? What's its size or colour? All that information is really helpful. If you know who caused that harm, painting a picture of that household and who lives there is also helpful in us determining a priority rating and a response rating. The questions around physical harm can start to explore the impact, not only on that child but anyone else who is vulnerable in that home. A lot of the questions, particularly the last three points, start to direct the Helpline about matters that could carry with them a higher response rate and if not known, it can often make it difficult for the Helpline to determine immediacy of that harm. With sexual abuse, the child's disclosure is crucial. It's a crucial piece of evidence of that child's experience. Timeframes are important, especially if we know when it occurred. Information on the alleged offender, their identifying information, any details at all that can create a picture of what access and exposure might look like for that child, or other children is also helpful. Some of the prompts explore what medical treatment may be sought or needed for sexual abuse. These questions are important for us, as they can create a referral pathway to a joint child protection response program. That's a program made up from Police, Health and DCJ staff, Domestic violence. Domestic violence is a common risk factor. The screen shows you some of the lethality indicators. If these are present, it increases the risk. It's very rare that we would get reports on just one abuse or neglect type. Often there's two or three and domestic violence is definitely one of our most common abuse types. And a eReport, if you do your Mandatory Reporter Guide report and it does make ROSH, it will lead you to an eReport. So that's what it looks like when you get to that screen. I am told it has been updated recently. Previously we weren't able to report those I-ROSH, those immediate ones and you can now do so. There's a few other details that we ask for. There's more help text, and a few more questions. The good thing about an eReport is it allows you to track your report, so you can see where it's up to. Just focusing now on some information, just yeah, extending on what we've already talked about. Obviously identifying details of the child is really helpful. The name, aliases, date of birth, addresses, household members, those things are important. Incident details. The what, when, where, how. Any conversations you may have had with the parents. The impact on the child, have you noticed any changes in their behaviour, their emotional wellbeing. Supports and strengths of the family, or their network, any formal or informal supports that you are aware of that that family might be getting, or that your service might be assisting with. Just a few more tips, consider the timing of your report. If you are reporting about an incident, an intend on talking to the parents or carers about it, or other professionals, if it's not urgent, please report back after you have the conversation or a meeting with them. Use simple plain language and avoid acronyms. DCJ uses lots of acronyms and we could have different meanings. Use direct quotes, especially for disclosures. Use quotation marks for disclosures or the words that children use. Obtain as much information from the staff member who heard or saw the concerns firsthand if they're not the ones reporting. It is okay to ask clarifying questions. For example, what do you mean by that? How did you get that bruise? Why are you scared to go home? And if it's an emergency, please call the police or the ambulance as we're not first responders and there can be a time delay between your report and when we're able to respond. What to do if a child discloses to you? Don't take a upon yourself to investigate the matter or ask a child leading questions, to find out what happened. Do ask a child what they mean. If they use adult terms such as sexual assault or rape and you feel that they may not know the meaning to those words, even if you don't have all the information you would like, still make a report to the Child Protection Helpline as soon as possible. When it's appropriate to do so, make a record of the child's disclosure. This will help you remember what they told you, record the exact words that they used. It's important not to confront the person of interest on the child's disclosure or tell them what the child has disclosed, as this may impact the police investigation or the safety assessment that DCJ will conduct. There is difference between clarifying questions and leading questions, but if you're not sure, just leave it. Just a quick example of a matter that was of sexual abuse it went to JCPR. It happened some time ago, so it wouldn't happen now, I'm sure, but just as a really obvious example about how context and that clarifying information, how important it is. We had a four year old girl who disclosed that she didn't really like her pop and that when she sat on his lap, he did rude things to her. So this was a report that was made to the Helpline and that came through to the Joint Investigation Unit. There was a planning meeting that had a police officer, a Sergeant, case worker and a manager, also health. We both looked at information and background so there was lots of work and planning. We got the child in and we asked her some questions. She did repeat that she doesn't really like her granddad and that he does rude things to her, but when we asked, well, what does rude things mean? She said that he popped off. So when we asked what that meant, it was that he had wind and she thought that was rude. So you can just see that having that extra information would've saved that family a lot of stress and worry and it would've saved many, many professionals time, that time that we could use for other children that were really in need of a DCJ response. The next few slides are just some visuals, just to let you know that when it does get to the Helpline, there can be a couple of different actions. So if you're trying to report and it's non-ROSH, that just gets closed. It could be non-ROSH, but there's some further work that we could do, like maybe a referral to another agency or support service, or maybe it's a parent who's rung and wants a conversation with the case worker. The last response is a ROSH report. So when it makes ROSH, it will be transferred to the CSC triage team if they have one, or the Local District Hub. When it's a ROSH report, it should be allocated for an assessment by a caseworker It's important that I share with you that it takes the same amount of time to process a ROSH report and a non ROSH report. So that could be a good hour. 40% of the work the Helpline get at the moment, is non ROSH. That's a lot of time spent on work, that's not meant to be for DCJ, at that particular point in time. What are some of the things that we consider when we're making a decision about ROSH and the urgency and whether or not we need to be responding. We take into consideration what's contained within the report you make, we conduct a review of any other information known. So we'll look on our computer system, which we call Child Story. We look at other sources and we seek information from police, education, Health, NGO's. We consider the severity of that harm. How serious is the information in the report and what's alleged to have happened? What's the urgency? What's the vulnerabilities for the child, like their age, their visibility in the community? Any disabilities? And for the parent, we may consider things like their drug and alcohol use, their supports, mental health, et cetera. We consider any presenting protective behaviours or factors that we might know of, such as has a parent moved the child to a safer place, to a different residence, to escape the perpetrator or moved the child out of school where a perpetrator may have been if it was another student. All of this is weighed up against the other reports that we may be trying to decide between. Sometimes there is a ranking of the reports in a priority and a decision's made that which reports will be able to be allocated for a DCJ Field Assessment. Which might be able to be referred to another service and which will be able to be closed, without support. That's always a hard and horrible decision for us to make. So why do we rank reports? Because we can only get through that 30% of the reports made. As an agency, we are looking at this all the time, what can we do to make sure that we see more children and we respond to more reports? It's definitely been a focus for the last few years, and will continue to be a focus to see what we can do in that area. We do wanna do a thorough job and a thorough assessment though. We don't wanna rush. We will engage that family and support network for that family, to avoid them being re-reported in the future. If there is a ROSH report that is about a child who is in out-of-home care, an assessment or some type of protective action is prioritised for these children and that's due to their history, their vulnerability and our obligation as holding their parental responsibility. So what happens to non ROSH reports? If your report to the Helpline is non ROSH, as we've just touched on, it could be closed at the Helpline with no further action and DCJ, or the local CSC may not get to see that. They will see it though if there is an open plan currently for that child. That non-ROSH report will be forwarded to that CSC and that caseworker. Multiple non-ROSH reports won't necessarily result in a ROSH determination, but I do encourage you to capture your concerns over time, so we do look for patterns of risk and build a picture of harm. So if you capture that before reporting, that does all weigh up when a report needs to be made. So what else does that mean for you? If you use the MRG and the outcome is non ROSH, but your gut says that you are worried, that this is serious and does warrant statutory intervention, call the Helpline or liaise with your local CSC. The last slide, is a reminder to say that we are committed to helping you and we could consult, we could offer you other referral or agency information. We could let you know where there may be vacancies that might support the family. We could provide resources and we could even come out and speak with your service. I was asked to cover a common example that you may find yourselves in. So I'll do that just briefly. So an example could be Thomas who's four years old and he's always crying when he arrives at the service and his educator has noticed that Thomas often has bruises and his clothes are always dirty. Thomas often seems hungry and Thomas' mom appears to be affected by drugs. So we've talked earlier about the amount of information that's helpful and required and I guess that threshold to make ROSH. So if that was a report, it wouldn't make the threshold, 'cause there's not enough information. Even though we touched on neglect, physical abuse and drugs and alcohol, there was so much information missing there that that would be really hard to prioritise over other reports. So what would you do in that circumstance? Look, there's a number of things, you could talk to your local CSC, you could talk to fellow workers at your service, we could give you some advice about local services that might help like neighbourhood centres, or Salvation Army, counselling, where they may be able to get food vouchers. One of the things that I would firstly do would be just to be curious with mum and Thomas. Maybe just ask her, "How's it going?" That she might seem tired or stressed lately, is everything okay? Is there anything that you can do to help? That often may be enough for mum to make a disclosure to you that will then help you and help DCJ support that child and family. If Thomas's mum was meant to pack lunch and she doesn't, maybe just say something reminding her about, he seemed hungry today, he didn't have lunch or is he having breakfast before he comes in? Those type of, you know, curious questions can just help that dialogue with mum. So that's probably it for me at this point.
So, what we're going to do now is go through some case scenarios, which we hope will provide you with some practical examples of navigating the reporting requirements across a range of different situations. During this section, we are actually going to have three scenarios that we'll walk through. We'll firstly read through the scenario and then we'll be asking you to submit some responses via Menti. For each scenario, the same two Menti questions will be asked, with multiple choices for responses. We'll be asking what needs to be reported in this situation and who does it need to be reported to. Now these aren't meant to be trick questions, rather to get you thinking about what is reportable from the various situations that you might come across in the day-to-day runnings of your service. Now, if you can have your phone ready with the camera or your internet browser ready for when we put the slide up with the Menti details, I'll read through the scenarios first and then we'll discuss the appropriate responses as we work through the Menti questions. So our scenario 1, Peter age three and a half years, is with his peers and educators playing in the outdoor area during afternoon play. Educators counted each child as they entered the play area, numerous activities are set up to engage the children and there are 20 children aged between three and four, with three educators, the educators are spread out, at various supervision points and one educator is helping a child tie up her shoelaces. At this time, Peter asked the closest educator if he can go to the toilet, as Peter is independent, the educator allows him to go inside into the bathroom on his own. She is standing within one and a half meters of the bathroom door that faces onto the outdoor play area. She watches Peter go inside then returns to watching three children in the nearby sandpit. While inside the bathroom, Peter decides to explore further inside the service. It's quiet as the babies are sleeping and the other children are all outside. He notices a door that is normally closed, but was left ajar. He goes inside and closes the door behind him. Unfortunately it locks. Peter sits down and begins to pull out some rags and other non-chemical items from the lower shelves. The educator closest to the bathroom door is engaged with another child who has fallen over and whilst not injured, was upset and needed comfort. Her colleague realises that they need to do a headcount which is done also every 15 minutes and is due. She then commences counting the children. She realises there are one fewer than there should be. She identifies each child and realises that Peter is missing. She calls to her colleagues and asks if they've seen Peter, the educator closest to the bathroom door states that he went into the bathroom, but that was of about 10 minutes ago. She goes into the bathroom to look for Peter while the other two educators group the children together for a story, the educator cannot find Peter in the bathroom and begins to search in other areas. Approximately five minutes later, as she walks past one door, she hears a voice that appears to be coming from inside. Trying the handle, she finds it is locked, but calls through the door. Peter responds. The educator unlocks the door and finds Peter sitting on the floor, happily playing dress up with some clothes. The educator checks him over, does not find any injuries. She also checks the cupboard and finds chemical stored on shelves out of reach of Peter. She brings Peter back out to the play area and he joins the rest of the group. So what you'll find with your slide is the Menti QR code. So if you scan the QR code or you can type in manually to menti.com in your browser and you'll be able to enter the code on the screen. What we'll do is we'll wait a few moments to give everyone a chance to log in. What we're gonna do now is switch over the results as they come through. We've got a bit of a split amongst a few reporting types. So we've got 55% for risk to health, safety and wellbeing of child whilst attending a service. We've got 18% concerns about the safety, welfare, or wellbeing of a child. We got 2% of our attendees are saying a complaint and 25% serious incident. Let's wait for some more to come to see if that changes, that dynamic. We might switch over to the next question to see how that's all changing. So we're seeing the majority of people saying that the Regulatory Authority is the agency to report to. We've got a small number of DCJ and OCG. Remember these aren't here to trick you. It's just to start the conversation around what the reporting should be. One thing I'd probably add is context is everything. So what's been reported and understanding, what sits below the surface and how things have transpired it gives us a good understanding of how we report. So context is everything. So with this one, we are looking at a serious incident and the regulator is the agency to report to in this case. Just a few points that I've got here that are worth are worth raising and having a discussion after the fact, when you return back into the service and you go to those team meetings, is you must notify the Regulatory Authority within 24 hours of becoming aware of a serious incident. So that sits under section 174 of the law, as well as regulation 176 . One of the things to note from this as well, ratios may have been correct communication between educators is so important and so is adequate supervision. But in the same sentence, it is challenging dealing with multiple situations happening at once. Situations like this can happen very quickly and consider if headcounts should be increased when you've got the dynamics change or where you're spread out in multiple locations. So consider whether you need to revise those on the fly and increase that frequency. In this case, the situation could have been more serious as we have seen incidences where chemicals such as cleaning solutions have been stored in cupboards, easily accessible by children and no one wants to see those incidents take place where children do access a chemical. The other point is, NQA ITS is set up to help you choose an incident type. For example, there's an option where you can select a child locked in or out. So we'll move on to the next slide, please. So this is scenario 2. Emily an educator at the service was changing a child's nappy when she overheard some commotion from the room. She looked over and witnessed another educator, Anna, who approached a child, David, as he was trying to take a toy from another child. Anna grabbed David by his hoodie and dragged him away from the other child. She then picked David up by his left hand, with a lot of force and dragged him into another area of the room. David became very distressed and began crying, holding onto his left arm. Anna, then left the room in an agitated state, shouting at Emily to watch the children. Five children aged 12 months. Emily comforted David and noticed marks on the child's arms from the force. Emily notified the nominated supervisor immediately she also mentioned that Anna had become increasingly rough with children over the previous months. The nominated supervisor, was informed that other educators were aware of Anna's behaviour, but did not want to say anything because all she had done, was shout at the children and be a bit rough when picking them up. They were also concerned about how Anna would react if other educators in the room challenged her about her actions. Anna has been witnessed screaming at the children when they won't listen to her on numerous occasions. This was the first time she had used such force. David sustained a dislocated shoulder due to the actions of Anna. He also sustained bruising to his wrist and arm. So I'm gonna go into the Menti again. With this scenario, it looks like we've split it into close to nice quarters. 27% of our attendees are saying that an incident or an allegation of physical or sexual abuse, 27% of our attendees today are saying serious incident, 18% concerns about the safety, welfare, and wellbeing of a child and 24% reportable allegation or conviction. With 4% as a complaint. That seems to be pretty constant. So what we'll do is we'll switch over to the next Menti question. There seems to be two at the forefront here, with the regulator and OCG. There's a few for New South Wales Police and more for DCJ. So if we look at this scenario, there's two items that we can look at here. It's an incident or allegation of physical or sexual abuse and a reportable allegation or conviction. So from our previous discussions, we are looking at notifications to the Regulatory Authority, but also in this case, OCG with that reportable allegation or conviction. So if I look at the context of that scenario and just a few notes that I've got in here, that looks at the regulation but also some of the actions that would be taken is regulation 175, prescribed information to be notified to the authority, as well as it being a reportable allegation or conviction to the OCG due to the conduct of the educator. When notifying the regulator, it's always best practice to include that with your notification that you've made to the OCG, that you reference that in your notification to the regulator. This just helps us assess whether you've completed all the reporting requirements. In saying that the department would also alert the OCG, Reportable Conduct Unit to that incident anyway. The matter would be referred to our investigations team, educators should consider what actions are appropriate and escalate inappropriate behaviour to the relevant manager before actions cause harm to children. So that's being proactive in that space to make sure that even those small signs that don't sit right or don't look right, you start to have discussions around those and had the child been struck considerations should be given as to whether the matter should be reported to the New South Wales Police Force. I'll keep on going with scenario 3. Educator Mark works in an outside school hours care service. There is a single bathroom inside the main room of the OSHC service. Mark notices Sam, an eight year old standing outside the door to the toilet and Mark encourages Sam to come in and join the art activity at one of the tables. When Mark looks back, Sam was not there. As Mark assumes he was in the toilet, later as Mark scans the room again, he notices Sam and another child Max, 11 years old, leaving the bathroom together. Mark questions the two children about being in the bathroom together and they both deny it and resume normal play for the afternoon. The next day, the centre director of the service receives a call from Max's mum. Max's mum advises that there had been an alleged incident of sexual harm of her son at the service the previous afternoon. Max's mum alleges that her son Max, was assaulted by younger peer Sam. Max's mum advised that she had asked him questions to find out what had occurred. Max told his mother that Sam asked him to go to the toilet with him and touch his penis. Max told his mother that he did what Sam had asked him to do because he didn't want Sam to stop being his friend. Max said that Sam told him not to tell anyone what they did and that one of their educators Mark had seen them come out of the toilet together and asked if they were in there together, which they denied. Max told his mum that this was the first time anything like this had happened. Max and his sibling were immediately withdrawn from care. Max's mum is highly distressed with what has occurred. The split again, more towards an incident or an allegation of physical or sexual abuse.
[Lisa] This is an interesting one as we had Sam who's eight and Max who's 11, coming out of a bathroom together and when questioned, both denied. That would be a bit of a red flag for me. When Max's mum. Sorry Karl, did you wanna go?
No, no you're right. Sorry. I was just gonna
[Lisa] Yeah. And the other red flag for me is, just the age of Sam that he's younger and that he actually said, don't tell anyone. That's another red flag there, that would have me worried. And how are we looking at our graph there?
I think we're still looking at an overwhelming response for an incident or allegation of physical sexual abuse and relatively even split amongst the remainder. Well we might go over to the next question.
[Lisa] Okay. See those numbers coming in? I would definitely agree that this information would warrant putting it on the MRG to see what you get. My instant curiosity is, where is Sam getting this behaviour from? Is Sam a child at risk and experiencing abuse? The information would make ROSH, especially for Sam and would require a report to the Helpline for both the children. The report would be sent to the CSC or the Hub for allocation. The CSC would look at the history for both the children, look at the level of risk and any other information that may be known about the families. We would weigh that up with the other reports that we have. As I described earlier. We may contact the reporter back, just to get some other information about Sam. Has he displayed this behaviour before? It is highly likely that Sam would be allocated for a response and for Max's mum, he's safe. Max is safe. So it might just be that we may offer, you know, referral or counselling for Max and his mum.
And from the regulator's point of view, this would also need to be reported to the regulator as an incident or allegation of physical or sexual abuse has occurred as well as the complaint from Max's mum and these matters would be referred on to our investigations team.
[Lisa] I can see in the chat, there's a couple of things about the red flags. For me, it just makes me curious. Curious to go, mm, what were they doing in there and that they denied it. So for me, when they denied, it's like, ah, they must be thinking they were doing something that they weren't allowed to do. So that would've just made me a little... When I'm reading the scenario it makes me curious and the not to tell anyone, to me that's often what adult perpetrators might say to children, that it's our secret, don't tell, you know, we won't be friends, something bad will happen. So when they come up with that type of language, it tells me that it's more or beyond just exploratory play or that peer to peer exploration. It does push it to that next level. There's a question about how further can we question the child when they deny? I mean, you guys are the experts in that, in your own field. I wouldn't say that you would have to, but for me, just made me curious. So I may just watch the children's behaviour after that, that's all. I mean, Max started to move away from what he was doing before he went into the bathroom, if you saw his demeanour change, that's when I might be again, curious and just, "Hey Max, are you okay? You were having fun before now you look quiet."
There's a question here from Kylie. Are we not obligated to call the police on the matter like this being that it's an educator that has injured a child? Again, it comes down to context and what you know, sometimes that is a good way of understanding whether those additional steps need to be taken. In the case of, I think from memory scenario 2 it could be worthwhile again, you've made your report. You've advised the regulator that that's taken place. It really comes down to a conversation with your team, as well as looking at whether that's assault or not. It's something that could be reported, but again, you could seek further advice on that by actually contacting your local area command and having a conversation around that as well. Just continuing to look through some of these questions. Philip has raised question here would a safety check prior to the transition outside have been a better preventative measure rather than constant head counts? It's very complicated to count non-static groups and I would be concerned that this would take you away from the quality focus of children in the program. Look in a case of additional head counts, you can change that frequency, there are a number of things that you can do, in that case that was just a thing that popped out. It's one of those simpler solutions but again, you can also have more people, more educators out in the outdoor area, increasing the the visibility of that supervision. You can also look at before you do your transitions from one area to another, that you do a very quick check through to make sure things are closed. Doors are closed, doors are locked. What needs to be put away, is put away. So that doesn't place those kids at risk when they transition into the new environment. There are a number of things that you can do. It's just, again, everything comes down to context because without knowing your service in a great amount of detail, knowing your staff and their different levels of expertise, it's hard to say that you must do, one thing, two things, or three things, it's what's best suited for the scenario that you find yourself in or whatever your program is doing at that point in time through to, you know, your children well and how to manage those children. So it all comes down to having that context and understanding and thinking about another avenue to keep kids safe. Can you see any others in there, Lisa, that you want to answer?
[Lisa] There was one about just noting that yeah, Max is safe, but what about the other children at the centre? There's lots of different organisations online today. So I would say that whatever your own policies and procedures are when you're trying to keep children safe, when you do have a child at your centre who could be having harmful behaviours, to do that. Otherwise I would speak to DCJ and see what advice that they may give. Is there one of your services options so that child may not be allowed to attend the centre for a short period of time until they get their own therapy, or the discussions are held with that child and that parent, do you increase your staff around that particular child? There could be a variety of things that your service might have access to or might do.
Thanks Lisa, there's another question here from Fetty, did you suggest that we have to also log it as a complaint to the RA or that's when the mother is raised the issues with the service that in itself is a complaint about what's happened at the service. So that would be lodged with the RA. Sometimes it might not be on paper that they've lodged a formal complaint or a complaint in written context. Sometimes that conversation, you can clearly see that it's distressing for them and it is a complaint. So it's one of those things that you can report to, well, as it is a complaint, you report it to the Regulatory Authority. If there's any questions around that, it's often easier to report that and notify than not. It's safer from a reporting perspective, but the triage team will actually go through that and look at whether that needs for further exploration around the context of what's happened, or whether that is not notifiable and they can have a discussion with you when they get to that point. Calvin's just got a question here. If you notice a child with inappropriate behaviours towards peers is the first step to discuss with parents as well, especially if you know families and know the child might not be getting the behaviour from home, just trying to know the first step. Again, with a child that has inappropriate behaviours towards peers, it is one of those additional steps is to have that conversation with the family. Everything comes down to engagement with the family, because it's really important to be providing them with the information so they know what's going on at the service. It is a very good first step, that doesn't preclude it making, again, depending on the context, the required notifications to the relevant bodies as well but you can have that conversation with them. Again, you have to be mindful of again, it comes down to context, but depending on what's actually taking place is being able to protect the child, that's the main thing.
[Lisa] Thanks Karl, I would agree. I would just say, use your professional judgement or your intuition about how much how you approach the family, what information that you share with them, just, yeah. Think about that beforehand.
Just continuing to go through. I think we've answered most, if there's some in here that we have missed, we will have to come back to those. We'll just take those on notice and respond. For the final part, if I go back to this support slide, I just wanted to acknowledge that some of the content in this session may of caused distress for some attendees, if you need support, please reach out to your networks. We've listed some organisations on this slide, which include Lifeline. They provide support to Australians experiencing emotional distress with access to 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services. So they're available on 131114. There's the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service, which provides a free counselling service 24/7, by phone or web chat for victims of sexual assault or domestic family violence. They're available on 1800737732. And then there's Bravehearts, which is a national information and Support Line that can be accessed by anyone wanting information to support or support relating to child sexual assault and exploitation. They're available on 1800272831. And finally to close our session today. Thanks for joining us. We appreciate the time that you've taken to inform yourself about your reporting requirements. Thank you for everyone that participated in the Menti surveys and submitting any questions through the Question and Answers. If you can spare five minutes at the end of the session, we would really appreciate your feedback on today's webinar. This information is really valuable for us to ensure that we are providing information that is helpful and beneficial for services. We'll pop a link into the survey chat now or shortly and if you wanna stay up to date with the department and see a range of resources, you can also like or follow our Facebook page. You can search the New South Wales, Early Childhood Education in Facebook or follow the links or the QR code on the screen. For any questions that we haven't had the opportunity to answer, like I said, we'll take them on notice and endeavour to get you an answer. So please keep an eye out for an email with these responses in your inbox. Thank you again for your time and most importantly your ears to listen to us today and enjoy the rest of your day. Thank you everyone.
Answered by NSW Department of Communities and Justice
What is the difference between ROSH and IROSH?
ROSH: Risk of Significant Harm
IROSH: Immediate Risk of Significant Harm
The term IROSH is used in the Mandatory Report Guide to tell reporters that they must report immediately, as opposed to a ROSH outcome that requires reporting over the next 24 hours.
The statistics show that the number of notifications received by DCJ have been going up since 2011. Is this because people are more comfortable in knowing how to notify or is it that there are more incidents occurring requiring notification?
It’s likely that the availability of eReporting, the Royal Commission and other media attention has increased awareness of mandatory reporting responsibilities. When a ROSH report is received, there are a number of potential responses based on the details of the report. Each year, approximately 30% of children and young people who are the subject of a ROSH report receive a formal DCJ response. However often there are alternative responses such as referrals that are more appropriate, or the information was later confirmed to be incorrect.
The NSW Department of Communities and Justice has a statistical website that reports on their performance, and can be found here.
What should we do if a child seems to always come in hungry, dirty and in inappropriate clothes for the weather. Should we attempt to investigate the child’s home situation ourselves?
Firstly, you should refer to and follow the policy and procedures of your service. Note down concerns or dates to record how regularly it is occurring or if there is a pattern of when it is occurring. You should discuss your concerns with your manager or supervisor and complete the Mandatory Reporter Guide for advice on next steps if there are concerns that the child may be experiencing neglect. You can also contact your local Community Services Centre (CSC) for advice on further support that can be offered to the family.
Our organisation does not have a Child Wellbeing Unit. Who can we contact for advice regarding child safety concerns? Often I would like to discuss the situation with someone for advice which can help me understand whether I need to make a report.
Please contact your local Community Services Centre (CSC), and ask to speak to a Triage Caseworker. They are there to listen and offer advice, and they will also give you resources or information for other contacts that may be appropriate.
If we notice a child with inappropriate language or behaviour towards their peers, what is the first step that should be taken and should we talk to the child’s family?
Each child and situation should be considered individually, with consideration given to the child’s current situation and level of risk. It is important to not place children in a situation where they may be subjected to further risk.
If a child was behaving inappropriately it would be fair to first raise this with the child, let them know that you saw/heard the behaviour and remind them of what is appropriate behaviour in a developmentally appropriate way. If the behaviour is out of character, then the first step might be to check with the child if everything is okay. Often showing care and curiosity may be enough for a child to let them know you care and are a safe person to talk to. If they have something to disclose and are ready to, this offers them an opportunity to do so.
If you are worried about the sexual risk of harm, you should speak to your Community Services Centre (CSC). Sexual abuse is often by someone known to the child and family.
Answered by NSW Department of Education:
Are we not obligated to call NSW Police in situations where an educator has injured a child?
If an educator has hurt a child at the service, services should consider the level of risk in the immediate situation to determine whether they should contact NSW Police. The individual circumstances surrounding the incident, your service context, severity of the injury and understanding of the educator’s history will all play a part in deciding whether NSW Police should be contacted.
Some examples of situations where NSW Police should be contacted include:
- An educator is observed to have hit/struck or otherwise assaulted a child with deliberate intent to harm.
- An educator is alleged to have intentionally caused an injury to a child/children.
If you are unsure, you can contact the NSW Police Assistance Line for advice on non-urgent matters on 131 444.
ACECQA has developed a helpful resource on recognising and managing inappropriate discipline, which can be found here.
Why should services report situations where a child wasn’t injured, for example the child was accidentally locked in a storeroom and left unattended for 10 minutes without supervision. Won’t this go on our record and it could be used against the service negatively in the future during a service visit or A&R?
Under the National Regulations, the definition of a serious incident includes a child being mistakenly locked in or locked out of the education and care service premises or any part of the premises. Serious incidents must be notified to the department within 24 hours of the incident occurring. It is important for services to notify the department of all reportable matters defined under the National Law and Regulations because, not only is it a statutory obligation, but it also allows you to demonstrate how you dealt with the incident and what measures you put in place to prevent it from happening again. Reporting an incident to the department should be viewed as an opportunity to show the lessons learned from such incidents.
The department also uses this information to inform tailored sector support initiatives. Data on notifications received is used to develop campaigns, communications, guidance or other forms of sector support in response to topical issues services may be experiencing. This helps to support services to improve quality and contributes to ensuring the best possible outcomes for children and families.
Can the department create a flow chart on who to report to for different scenarios inside or outside the centre, providing a quick snapshot that can be displayed for all staff?
The department has a helpful resource for services to outline the steps that should be taken following an incident, disclosure or suspicions of child abuse. The resource shows the steps that should be taken depending on whether the incident has occurred whilst the child is attending the service or at home or in the community. The resource can be found here.
In addition to this, we have published the case scenarios that were used during the session on this webpage for your reference. You may also like to refer to the department’s guide on Implementing the Child Safe Standards for other scenarios that can be used to facilitate reflective discussions during team meetings.
Answered by Office of the Children’s Guardian:
Does the OCG ever recommend that a service should file a report to the Police or is this at the discretion of the service?
Any conduct towards a child that you suspect may be criminal in nature should be reported to the NSW Police, in line with your legal obligations. Under section 316A of the Crimes Act, it is an offence to fail to report information to police if you know, believe or reasonably ought to know that a child abuse offence has been committed against a child, and you do not have a reasonable excuse for failing to make a report. Under section 43B of the Crimes Act, an adult working in an organisation 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 negligently fail to do so.
When you contact the OCG about a reportable allegation, OCG staff may note that a matter appears to include an allegation of a criminal offence which requires reporting to NSW Police. They may also remind you of the potentially serious repercussions if you respond to a criminal allegation, without speaking to police first about what steps you can take. Even telling an employee that an allegation has been made, without getting police permission first, might compromise a police investigation or a future criminal prosecution.
When notifying a reportable allegation to the OCG, the head of a relevant entity must include advice as to whether the matter has been reported to NSW Police (Section 29(2)(e) of the Children’s Guardian Act).
Peter, aged 3.5 years, is with his peers and educators playing in the outdoor area during afternoon play. Educators counted each child as they entered the play area. Numerous activities are set up to engage the children and there are 20 children aged between 3 & 4 years old, with 3 educators. The educators are spread out at various supervision points, and one educator is helping a child tie up their shoe laces. At this time, Peter asks the closest educator if he can go to the toilet. As Peter is independent, the educator allows him to go inside to the bathroom on his own. She is standing within 1.5 meters of the bathroom door that faces onto the outdoor play area. She watches Peter go inside and then returns to watching three children in the nearby sandpit.
While inside the bathroom, Peter decides to explore further inside the service. It’s quiet as the babies are sleeping and the other children are all outside. He notices a door that is normally closed but was left ajar. He goes inside and closes the door behind him. Unfortunately, it locks. Peter sits down and begins to pull out some rags and other non-chemical items from the lower shelves.
The educator closest to the bathroom door is engaged with another child who had fallen over and, while not injured, was upset and needed comfort. Her colleague realises that they need to do a headcount (done every 15 minutes, and due) and commences counting the children. She realises there is one fewer than there should be. She identifies each child and realises that Peter is missing. She calls to her colleagues to ask if they have seen Peter. The educator closest to the bathroom door states that he went to the bathroom but that was about 10 minutes ago. She goes into the bathroom to look for Peter while the other two educators group the children together for a story.
The educator cannot find Peter in the bathroom and begins to search in other areas. Approximately 5 minutes later, as she walks past one door, she hears a voice that appears to be coming from inside. Trying the handle, she finds it locked but calls through the door. Peter responds. The educator unlocks the door and finds Peter sitting on the floor, happily playing dress ups with some clothes. The educator checks him over and does not find any injuries. She also checks the cupboard and finds chemicals stored on shelves out of reach of Peter. She brings Peter back out to the play area and he joins the rest of the group.
What needs to be reported from this scenario:
Who does it need to be reported to?
NSW Department of Education (NSW Regulatory Authority)
- Services must notify the regulatory authority within 24 hours of becoming aware of a serious incident (section 174(2)(a), regulation 12 and regulation 176(2)(a)(ii)).
- NQAITS allows you to choose an incident type – for example, there is an option to select Child locked in/out.
- While ratios may have been correct, communication between the educators is so important and adequate supervision is key.
- It is challenging when dealing with multiple situations. Situations like this can happen very quickly.
- Consider strategies to mitigate these risks including additional headcounts, positioning of staff, a change in daily routines, or increased communication between staff on children’s movements.
- The situation could have been more serious if there was access to chemicals (such as cleaning solutions) stored in cupboards that were accessed by children.
Emily, an educator at the service, was changing a child’s nappy when she overheard some commotion from the room. She looked over and witnessed another educator, Anna, approach a child, David, as he was trying to take a toy from another child. Anna grabbed David by his hoodie and dragged him away from the other child. She then picked David up by his left hand with a lot of force and dragged him to another area of the room. David became very distressed and began crying, holding onto his left arm. Anna then left the room in an agitated state, shouting at Emily to watch the children (5 children aged 12 months). Emily comforted David and noticed marks on the child's arms from the force.
Emily notified the Nominated Supervisor immediately. She also mentioned that Anna had become increasingly rough with children over the previous months. The NS was informed that other educators were aware of Anna’s behaviour, but did not want to say anything because all she had done was shout at the children and be a bit rough when picking them up. They were also concerned about how Anna would react if other educators in the room challenged her about her actions. Anna has been witnessed screaming at the children when they won’t listen to her on numerous occasions. This was the first time she had used such force.
David sustained a dislocated shoulder due to the actions of Anna. He also sustained bruising to his wrist and arm.
What needs to be reported from this scenario?
Any incident or allegation of physical or sexual abuse
Reportable allegation or conviction
Who needs to be reported to?
NSW Department of Education (NSW Regulatory Authority)
NSW Office of the Children’s Guardian (Reportable Conduct)
- Services must notify the regulatory authority of any incident or allegation of physical or sexual abuse within 7 days (section 174(2)(c) and regulation 175(2)(d)), however it is recommended that you notify the regulatory authority as soon as possible so that an investigation can commence.
- Services should include in your notification that you have made a report to the OCG. This helps us understand whether the required reports have been made.
- The department would also alert the OCG Reportable Conduct Unit to the incident.
- The matter would be referred to the regulatory authority’s investigations team to follow up.
- Educators should consider what actions are appropriate and escalate inappropriate behaviour to the relevant manager before the actions cause harm to children.
- Depending on the severity of the situation and level of risk or harm, consideration should be given as to whether the matter should be reported to the NSW Police Force as well, for example if it was alleged that the educator intended to cause deliberate harm to the child.
Educator Mark works in an outside school hours care service. There is a single bathroom inside the main room of the OSHC service. Mark notices Sam (8 years old), standing outside the door to the toilet and Mark encourages Sam to come and join the art activity at one of the tables. When Mark looks back, Sam was not there, and Mark assumes he was in the toilet. Later, as Mark scans the room again he notices Sam and another child, Max (11 years old), leaving the bathroom together. Mark questions the two children about being in the bathroom together, and they both deny it and resume normal play for the afternoon.
The next day, the centre director of the service receives a call from Max’s Mum. Max’s Mum advises that there had been an alleged incident of sexual harm of her son at the service the previous afternoon. Max’s mum alleges that her son Max was “assaulted” by a younger peer Sam. Max’s Mum advised that she had asked him questions to find out what had occurred. Max told his mother that Sam asked him to go into the toilet with him and touch his penis. Max told his mother that he did what Sam had asked him to do because he didn’t want Sam to stop being his friend. Max said that Sam told him not to tell anyone what they did, and that one of their educators Mark had seen them come out of the toilet together and asked if they were in there together which they denied. Max told his Mum that this was the first time anything like this had happened. Max and his sibling were immediately withdrawn from care, Max’s Mum is highly distressed by what has occurred.
What needs to be reported from this scenario?
Any incident or allegation of physical or sexual abuse
Who needs to be reported to?
NSW Department of Education (NSW Regulatory Authority)
NSW Department of Communities and Justice (Child Protection)
- The service should complete the Mandatory Reporter Guide, and follow the directions to make a report to DCJ. It is possible Sam could be at risk and experiencing abuse.
- This information would meet the Risk of Significant Harm (ROSH) threshold and requires a report to the Helpline for both children.
- The reports would be sent to the Community Services Centre (CSC) for allocation.
- The CSC would consider the history of the children, the level of risk, and weigh this up with other children reported to determine an appropriate response.
- The reporter may be contacted to see any other information about Sam, has he displayed this behaviour before and what response did Sam’s parents have when finding out of the information.
- It is likely that Sam would be allocated for a response. It is likely that Max’s mother may be offered support services or advice if needed.
- This would also need to be notified to the NSW Regulatory Authority as an incident or allegation of physical or sexual abuse within 7 days (section 174(2)(c) and regulation 175(2)(e)), as well as the complaint from Max’s mum within 24 hours of receiving the complaint (section 174(2)(b) and regulation 12).
- The matter would be referred to the NSW Regulatory Authority’s investigations team for follow up.
NSW Department of Education
- Responding to incidents, disclosures and suspicions of child abuse (flowchart resource)
- ACECQA sample forms and templates
For more information or any questions specific to your service context, please call 1800 619 113 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Office of the Children’s Guardian
- Reportable conduct notification forms
- OCG’s eLearning modules
- Reportable conduct factsheets
- Other webinars, training and resources
For any questions or more information on the Reportable Conduct Scheme, please contact the scheme on 8219 3800 or email email@example.com
NSW Department of Communities and Justice