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.
A mandated notifier is required by law to notify the Department for Child Protection if they suspect on reasonable grounds that a child or young person is, or may be, at risk of harm.
This obligation arises when a mandated notifier forms this suspicion in the course of their employment (whether paid or voluntary).
A mandated notifier must make the notification as soon as is reasonably practicable after forming the suspicion. Refer to the Mandatory Reporting Guide (PDF, 603.0 KB) for helpful guidance around deciding when to report concerns to the Child Abuse Report Line.
If a mandated notifier forms a suspicion outside of their work (whether paid or voluntary) that a child or young person is, or may be, at risk of harm, they may make a notification to the Department for Child Protection voluntarily.
Section 30 of the Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017 establishes that the following people are mandated notifiers:
- medical practitioner
- registered or enrolled nurse
- police officer
- community corrections officer under the Correctional Services Act 1982
- social worker
- minister of religion
- person who is an employee of, or volunteer in, an organisation formed for religious or spiritual purposes
- teacher employed as such in a school (within the meaning of the Education and Early Childhood Services (Registration and Standards) Act 2011) or a pre-school or kindergarten
- employee of, or volunteer in, an organisation that provides health, welfare, education, sporting or recreational, child care or residential services wholly or partly for children or young people, being a person who:
- provides such services directly to children or young people
- holds a management position in the organisation, the duties of which include direct responsibility for, or direct supervision of, the provision of those services to children or young people
- officer or employee of a prescribed organisation (as per section 114) who holds a management position in the organisation, the duties of which include direct responsibility for, or direct supervision of, the provision of 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 is, or may be, at risk of harm.
A mandated notifier does not have to be able to prove that harm 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, or may be, at risk of harm
- when a child tells you they have been harmed
- a child telling you that they know of someone who has been harmed (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 harmed
- 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 harm, 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 and Young People (Safety) Act 2017 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 163 of the Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017, a mandated notifier's identity will not be disclosed unless the disclosure:
- is made with the consent of the person who gave the notification, or
- is required or authorised by the Chief Executive or under the Act, or
- is made by way of evidence and the court or tribunal is satisfied the disclosure is of critical importance in the proceedings and failure to admit it would prejudice the proper administration of justice
- is reasonably necessary for the performance of the person’s official functions and duties, or the functions and duties of a State authority relating to the protection of children and young people from harm, or
- is reasonably necessary to prevent harm, or further harm, being caused to a child or young person to whom the information relates.
A mandated notifier who reports a suspicion in accordance with the Act cannot be held to have breached any code of professional etiquette or ethics, or to have departed from any acceptable form of professional conduct (section 166(4) of the Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017).
A person must not cause detriment (for example threaten, intimidate or cause damage, loss or disadvantage) to a mandated notifier because they have reported, or propose to report, suspected harm (section 165(1) of the Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017).
A failure by a mandated notifier to report a suspicion formed on reasonable grounds that a child or young person is, or may be at risk, may result in a person being prosecuted and a court imposing a fine. See section 31(1) of the Children and Young People (Safety) Act 2017.
Circumstances where a person need not report a suspicion
A person need not report a suspicion if:
- the person believes on reasonable grounds that another person has reported the matter in accordance with that subsection
- the person’s suspicion was due solely to having been informed of the circumstances that gave rise to the suspicion by a police offer or child protection officer acting in the course of their official duties
- the person believes on reasonable grounds that the Department for Child Protection is already aware of all of the information that forms the basis of the person’s suspicion.
The ACCS (child wellbeing) is an element of the Australian Government's childcare package that supports families who need practical help with the cost of child care to support their child's safety and wellbeing.
Child care providers can give a certificate to a parent or carer for ACCS (child wellbeing) for up to 6 weeks where they understand a child is at risk and access to child care would go some way to removing this risk.
Where the child continues to be at risk, the child care provider can apply for a determination from the Australian Government Department of Human Services (DHS) for additional 13 week periods of ACCS (child wellbeing). Child care providers will need to submit third party evidence that the child is at risk - this evidence can be obtained from a range of sources, including DCP.
Where a child care provider has made a mandatory notification about a child to the Child Abuse Report Line, and they wish to request third party evidence for the purpose of applying for a determination for ACCS (child wellbeing) email DCP.ACCS@sa.gov.au.
Child Abuse Report Line
Phone: 13 14 78
Online reporting system: www.reportchildabuse.families.sa.gov.au
The online reporting system is only for mandated notifiers to report less serious concerns.