The information on this page is for mandated notifiers.
If you are a concerned member of the public, see the sa.gov.au website for information about making a report to the Child Abuse Report Line.
Always call 000 if it is an emergency
On this page
A mandated notifier is required by law to notify the Department for Child Protection if they suspect on reasonable grounds that a child has been or is being abused or neglected.
This obligation arises when a mandated notifier forms this suspicion in the course of their work (whether paid or voluntary) or in carrying out official duties.
A mandated notifier must make the notification as soon as practicable after the suspicion is formed.
If a mandated notifier forms a suspicion outside of their work (whether paid or voluntary) that a child has been or is being abused or neglected, they may make a notification to the Department for Child Protection voluntarily.
Section 11 of the Children's Protection Act 1993 establishes that the following persons are mandated notifiers:
- medical practitioner
- registered or enrolled nurse
- police officer
- community corrections officer (or an officer or employee of an administrative unit of the Public Service whose duties include the supervision of young or adult offenders in the community)
- social worker
- minister of religion
- person who is an employee of, or volunteer in, an organisation formed for religious or spiritual purposes
- teacher in an educational institution (including a kindergarten)
- an approved family day care provider
- any other person who is an employee or, or volunteer in, a government or non-government organisation that provides health, welfare, education, sporting or recreational, child care or residential services wholly or partly for children, being a person who -
- is engaged in the actual delivery of those services to children; or
- holds a management position in the relevant organisation, the duties of which include direct responsibility for, or direct supervision of, the provision of those services to children.
A mandated notifier must make a report to the Department for Child Protection if they suspect on reasonable grounds that a child or young person has been or is being abused or neglected.
A mandated notifier does not have to be able to prove that abuse or neglect has actually occurred.
Reasonable grounds to report suspected abuse and/or neglect may include:
- when your own observations of a particular child's behaviour and/or injuries lead you to suspect a child is being abused or neglected
- when a child tells you they have been abused
- a child telling you that they know of someone who has been abused (they may possibly be referring to themselves)
- when your own observations about the behaviour of the child, or their adult caregivers, give you cause to suspect that a child is being, or is at risk of being, abused or neglected
- when you hear about it from someone who is in a position to provide reliable information, perhaps a relative or friend, neighbour or sibling of a child who is at risk.
For more information about what may be considered abuse or neglect, see indicators of child abuse or neglect.
It is a legal requirement for a mandated notifier to report their suspicions to the Department for Child Protection. However, the Children’s Protection Act 1993 recognises that making a notification does not necessarily exhaust a mandated notifier's duty of care to a child and their family.
This means that a mandated notifier's duty of care is not over when they make a report to the Child Abuse Report Line.
A mandated notifier should consider how they can continue to respond to the needs of the child and their family. There are also other support services available for children, young people and families that may be able to help.
Under section 13 of the Children's Protection Act 1993, a mandated notifier's identity will not be disclosed except:
- in the course of official duties to another person acting in an official capacity (eg police acting in the matter of a criminal prosecution), or
- when the court deems the identify of the notifier to be evidence of critical importance to legal proceedings, or
- if the mandated notifier has consented to the disclosure of their name.
A mandated notifier is immune from civil liability for reporting a suspicion in good faith (section 12(a) and (b) of the Children's Protection Act 1993).
A person must not threaten, intimidate or cause damage, loss or disadvantage to a mandated notifier because they have reported, or propose to report, suspected abuse or neglect (section 11(6) of the Children's Protection Act 1993).
A failure by a mandated notifier to report a suspicion formed on reasonable grounds that a child or young person has been or is being abused or neglected may result in a person being prosecuted and a court imposing a fine. See section 11 of the Children's Protection Act 1993.
A defence to a charge for failing to report
It is a defence to a charge that a mandated notifier has failed to report their suspicions, if the mandated notifier can prove that his or her suspicion was due solely to having been informed of the suspected child abuse or neglect by a:
- police officer acting in the course of their official duties
- another mandated notifier who has already made a report about the suspected child abuse or neglect.
Mandated notifiers can refer to the following information sheet (PDF 275KB) for examples about the operation of the defence provisions.
A defence does not apply in situations where a mandated notifier possesses additional knowledge of the child's circumstances beyond that reported to them by a police officer or another mandated notifier.
In these circumstances, the mandated notifier must make their own report to the Child Abuse Report Line.