Child protection

Procedures

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1. Procedures: roles and responsibilities – Incidents of child sexual abuse

Staff are required to familiarise themselves with the detail contained in the following website www.mandatoryreporting.dcp.wa.gov.au

1.1. The Principal

  • The Principal is responsible for all aspects of school management including assisting the teacher, child and relevant specialist authorities, if requested.
  • The Principal must ensure that the school’s pastoral care and/or curriculum structures address the issue of child sexual abuse and protective behaviours.
  • The Principal must ensure that all staff members receive appropriate training in the detection and reporting of child sexual abuse. Indicators of child sexual abuse are to be found in Appendix A.
  • The Principal should ensure that all employees and volunteers are fit and proper persons to work with children via Working with Children Checks.
  • If a teacher, nurse or boarding supervisor has formed a reasonable belief that sexual abuse has occurred, they must make a mandatory report to the Department of Child Protection and Family Support (CPFS).
  • The Principal must be informed by the staff member that a mandatory report has been made.
  • Advice must be sought from the CPFS or the Police in regard to providing any information to others, including the parents/guardians, about the report or the child concerned.
  • Should any disclosure or concern of sexual abuse relate to the behaviour of a staff member, the Principal should informed the staff member about the advocacy, support and other services which may be available.
  • When the Principal is made aware of the incident, the Principal must report the matter, as soon as practicable, and in any event, within 48 hours of the incident to the Chair of Council and the Department of Education. Should the incident relate to the behaviour of a staff member, the Principal must also report the matter to the Professional Standards Unit (PSU) of the Diocese of Perth. The identity of the reporter must be protected at all times, in line with the Children and Community Services Act 2004.
  • The Principal must retain records of all communication with the CPFS, the Police, the DES and the subsequent actions, of which he/she is privy. All records must be stored in a secure place to ensure confidentiality and kept separate form any other file on the student. There should be an indication on the student’s general file that other confidential records are being kept separately without revealing the nature of those records.
  • The Principal, with the assistance of the appropriate pastoral care staff (such as the Deputy Principal, Chaplain, School Psychologist or Clinical Nurse Manager), must undertake ongoing support for the teacher, the boarding staff, the student and anyone else affected by this process or its outcomes.
  • In the event a former student (still under the age of 18), or parent or guardian of a former student, makes an allegation of child sexual abuse at the school occurring before 2009, CPFS must be informed immediately. An allegation involving a former student who is now aged 18 or over is reportable to the Police. In either case, the Principal must submit a critical incident report to the Director General, Department of Education and may also be required to notify the Teacher Registration Board of Western Australia.

1.2. The teaching staff, nurses and boarding supervisors

  • Teachers, nurses and boarding supervisors have an obligation to take the necessary action to ensure a child is protected from further harm. Teachers, nurses and boarding supervisors are the key figures in the identification of child sexual abuse through personal observation of disclosure by the student concerned or a friend.
    • It is mandatory for teachers, nurses and boarding supervisors to report child sexual abuse.
  • A flow chart showing the procedure for making a mandatory report regarding sexual abuse is providing in Appendix C.
  • Once a teacher, nurse or boarding supervisor has formed a belief, based on reasonable grounds, that a child is or has been sexually abused, they are legally required to report to the Mandatory Reporting Service at the CPFS. They must also inform the Principal that a Mandatory Report has been made.
  • The belief may concern behaviour of a staff member towards a child who is enrolled at the reporter’s school, or another school, and/or during or outside of school hours.
  • If a belief of child sexual abuse is formed when not working in their role as a teacher, either paid or voluntary, there is no legal requirement to report. However, it is strongly recommended a report be made to CPFS voluntarily.
  • It is not the teacher’s, nurse’s or boarding supervisor’s role to conduct any investigation or to confront the suspected perpetrator or to intervene with the child’s family. Teachers, nurses and boarding supervisors do not have to have proof or prove that a child or young person has been harmed. This is the responsibility of specialist child protection workers and possibly the police.
  • Teachers, nurses and boarding supervisors who have concerns that child sexual abuse is occurring or has occurred are welcome to consult with the Principal or other specialist including the Deputy Principal, Clinical Nurse Manager or School Psychologist.
    • Teachers, nurses and boarding supervisor are advised to keep brief, written, dated notes of their concerns or observations to assist them in completing a mandatory report. Anecdotal records and other written information must be regarded as confidential and used in a professional manner. They may be subject to a court order that the records are made available to the court and to other persons for the purpose of legal proceedings. When, and if appropriate, they may give a copy of any notes to the Principal, who will store these confidential notes in a secure place.
  • The Mandatory Reporting Service and the Duty Officer at the local CPFS office will provide advice if the teacher, nurse or boarding supervisor is unsure of what action be taken.
  • If a student starts to disclose in class or any public area, the teacher, nurse or boarding supervisor should use the strategy of protective interrupting (see Appendix B).
  • Teachers, nurses and boarding supervisors must not engage in general staffroom discussion about a disclosure.
  • Advice must be sought from the CPFS or the Police prior to informing the parent/guardian of the concerns regarding the child.
  • Should allegations of any kind of abuse be made against the Principal, then the teacher, nurse or boarding supervisor alleging the abuse should not discuss this with the Principal but may wish to go directly to the Chair of the School Council. The Chair shall then inform the Department of Education and the PSU.

1.3. Non-teaching staff

  • Everybody has a duty to report concerns that involve the safety of children and young people.
  • Non-teaching staff with these concerns must inform the Principal.
  • Non-teaching staff are not mandatory reporters of sexual abuse. Only teachers, boarding supervisors, doctors, nurses, midwives and police officers are mandatory reporters.
  • Although non-teaching staff are not mandatory reporters. they are also encouraged to nofify CPFS if they have formed a belief, based on reasonable grounds, that a child is or has been sexually abused.

1.4. Department of Communities: Child Protection and Family Support (CPFS)

  • The CPFS is the government department with the statutory authority to investigate concerns relating to child sexual abuse in WA.
  • In the case of sexual abuse, the teacher, nurse or boarding supervisor must provide a written report to the Mandatory Reporting Service of the CPFS.
  • The CPFS has the responsibility of deciding how to proceed with reports and will supply a feedback letter to the reporter.
  • The CPFS will determine when, what and by whom information related to an allegation of child abuse and its investigation may be given to the person who is the subject of the allegation, the complainant, affected students and their parents and guardians, and the wider school community.
  • The Mandatory Reporting Service and the Duty Officer at the local CPFS can be used initially in a consultative role if either the Principal, the teacher, nurse or boarding staff is concerned about a child and unsure of what action to take.
  • The CPFS has the authority to interview the child at school before contact is made with the parent/guardian. The Principal will be notified by CPFS before the interview from a staff member of their choosing.
  • CPFS officers may remove a child from school if they have the permission of the parent/guardian. They may also apprehend a child without warrant and take them into care if they believe the child is in need of care and protection.
  • For further information: www.dcp.wa.gov.au (see Appendix G)

1.5. The Western Australia Police

  • The WA Police may play a role in responding to allegations of child sexual abuse and neglect when informed by CPFS.
  • In the case sexual abuse, the CPFS will forward all reports to the WA Police Service.
  • The WA Police Service Child Abuse Investigation Team will intervene in instances where it is believed that a criminal offence has occurred which may lead to criminal charges being laid.

2. Procedures: roles and responsibilities – physical, emotional abuse and neglect

2.1. The Principal

  • Principal is responsible for all aspects of school management including the management of suspected or disclosed incidents of child abuse and neglect.
  • The Principal must ensure that the School’s pastoral care and/or curriculum structures address the issue of child abuse and protective behaviours.
  • The Principal must ensure that all staff receive appropriate training in the detection and reporting of child abuse. Indicators of child abuse are to be found in Appendix A.
  • The Principal should ensure that all employees and volunteers are fit and proper persons to work with children via Working with Children Checks.

The Principal’s role is not to investigate any disclosure or strong concern about the wellbeing of a student, but must report the matter to the CPFS (see Appendix D).

  • The Principal must report to the CPFS when a case of child abuse or neglect is disclosed, or where there is a belief that abuse has occurred.
  • Advice must be sought from the CPFS or the Police prior to informing the parent/guardian of the concerns regarding the child.
  • Should any disclosure of strong concern of abuse relate to the behaviour of a staff member, the Principal must report the matter, as soon as practicable , and in any event, within 48 hours of the incident to the Chair of School Council and the Department of Education. Should the incident relate to the behaviour of a staff member, the Principal must also report the matter to the PSU.
  • The Principal must retain records of all communication with the CPFS, the Police, the Department of Education and the PSU, and the subsequent actions. All records must be stored in a secure place to ensure confidentiality and kept separate from any other file on the student. There should be an indication on the student’s general file that other confidential records are being kept separately without revealing the nature of those records.
  • The Principal, with assistance of the appropriate pastoral care staff (such as the Deputy Principal, Chaplain, School Psychologist or Clinical Nursing Manager), must undertake ongoing support for the teacher, the student and anyone else affected by this process or its outcomes.

2.2. The teaching staff

  • Teachers are the key figures in the identification of child abuse and neglect through personal observation or disclosure by the student concerned or a friend.
  • Teachers and boarding staff have a duty of care to take the necessary action to ensure the child is protected from further harm but it is not the teacher’s role to conduct a details investigation or to confront the suspected perpetrator or to intervene with the child’s family. Teachers do not have to prove that a child or young person has been harmed. This is the responsibility of specialist child protection workers and possibly the Police.
  • Teachers who have concerns that abuse or neglect are occurring must inform the Principal. They are to keep brief, written, dated notes of their concerns or observations and give them to the Principal, who will store these confidential notes in a secure place. Anecdotal records and other written information must be regarded as confidential and used in a professional manner. They may be subject to a court order that the records be made available to the court and to other persons for the purpose of legal proceedings.
  • If a student starts to disclose to a teacher in class or any other public area, the teacher should use the strategy of protective interrupting (see Appendix B).
  • If a student discloses to a teacher in private and tries to elicit a promise that the teacher will not tell anyone, it is important for the teacher to explain that he/she has concerns about the student’s safety and will have to take action to ensure the student is protected from further abuse. This will include informing the Principal. (for detailed information about dealing with a disclosure, refer to Appendix B).
  • Once a direct disclosure has been made, the Principal must be informed.
  • For a flowchart on the reporting procedures (see Appendix C).
  • Teachers must not engage in general staffroom discussion about a disclosure.
  • From 1 January 2009, it has become mandatory for teachers to report reasonable beliefs about child sexual abuse. From 1 January 2016, it has become mandatory for supervisors of boarding facilities to report reasonable beliefs about child sexual abuse.
  • Should allegations of abuse be made against the Principal, then the teacher alleging abuse should not inform the Principal, but should go directly to the Chair of Council. The Chair shall then inform the Department of Education and the PSU.

2.3. Non-teaching staff

  • Everybody has a duty to report concerns that involve the safety of children and young people.
  • Non-teaching staff with these concerns must inform the Principal.
  • Non-teaching staff are also encouraged to nofify CPFS if they have formed a belief, based on reasonable grounds, that a child is or has been abused or neglected.

2.4. The Department for Child Protection and Family Support (CPFS)

  • The CPFS is the government department with the statutory authority to investigate concerns relating to child abuse in WA.
  • All disclosures or strong concerns of abuse or neglect are to be reported by the Principal to the Duty Officer at the nearest local or regional office of the CPFS.
  • The Duty Officer at local CPFS office can be used initially in a consultative role if either the Principal or the teacher is unsure of what action to take.
  • The CPFS has the authority to interview the child at school before contact is made with the parent/guardian. The Principal must be notified before the interview and the child should be given the option of having support at the interview from a staff member of their choosing.
  • CPFS officers may remove a child from school if they have the permission of the parent/guardian. They may also apprehend a child without warrant and take them into care if they believe that the child is in need of care and protection.
  • For further information: www.dcp.wa.gov.au

2.5. The Western Australia Police

The WA Police may play a role in responding to allegations of child abuse and neglect when informed by the CPFS.

The WA Police Child Abuse Investigation Team will intervene where it is believed that a criminal offence has occurred which may lead to criminal charges being laid.

Appendix A – Indicators of child abuse and neglect

The following list of indicators is not exhaustive but contains those, which will be of use to teachers, nurses or boarding supervisors. These may include frequent injuries or tearfulness; uncharacteristic; unusual or inappropriate behaviour; frequent complaints of pain or sickness. Any of these indicators may suggest that a child is being abused, neglected or at risk of harm.

A single indicator may not always provide conclusive evidence, however a combination of several indicators should be treated very seriously. The examples of indicators listed may not necessarily be exclusive to a single category.

Indicators should be considered in the context of their consistency with the child’s medical history, developmental stage, capabilities and characteristic behaviour or attitudes. (See section “Actions teachers, nurses or boarding supervisor should take”).

Physical

  • Bruises: note location, shape and stage of healing
  • Burns that have a specific shape (e.g. that of an iron)
  • Fear of adults
  • Frequent absences, with or without explanation from parents or guardians
  • Guarded or evasive answers to questions about the causes of obvious injury
  • Hair missing in large quantities
  • Injuries that are not consistent with the child’s explanation for them
  • Lacerations and abrasions to the eyes, lips, gums, mouth
  • Missing or loosened teeth
  • Self mutilation

Sexual

  • Bloodstained underwear
  • Disclosure of involvement in sexual activity
  • External genital pain or discomfort in the genital area (eg. vaginal or anal itching)
  • Frequent or uncharacteristic changes in mood
  • Frequent urinary or yeast infections (eg. thrush)
  • Inappropriate expressions of affection
  • Inappropriate interest in sexual matters
  • Inappropriate objections by care giver to health and sex education curricula
  • Marked role reversal between mother and child
  • Obsession with neatness and cleanliness
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Possession of pornographic materials
  • Pregnancy
  • Presence of a sexually transmissible disease
  • Promiscuity or behaving sexually towards others
  • Reluctance to change clothes in front of others
  • Reluctance to form close relationships
  • Use of sexual language inappropriate for the child’s age
  • Wearing of inappropriate clothing for the child’s age

Emotional

  • Aggressive behaviour
  • Attempted suicide
  • Decline in academic performance
  • Eating disorders (eg. anorexia, bulimia)
  • Early arrival at school and/or reluctance to leave
  • Evidence of drug abuse or dependence
  • Excessively passive behaviour – being “too good”
  • Isolation, perhaps deliberate, from community and support system
  • Jealous, excessively restrictive and/or protective parent
  • Lethargy and/or fatigue
  • Low self-esteem
  • Obsession with neatness and cleanliness
  • Poor peer relationships
  • Shyness or withdrawal
  • Significant stress
  • Ulcers, asthma, allergies and other stress-related or psychosomatic conditions

Neglect

  • Abandonment of child
  • Developmental regression
  • Early arrival at school and/or reluctance to leave
  • Emaciated or distended stomach
  • Repeated failure by the care giver to collect child from school
  • Failure by care giver to provide adequate nutrition
  • Inadequate clothing
  • Inadequate home supervision
  • Inadequate food
  • Stealing food
  • Lack of appropriate medical care
  • Lethargy and fatigue
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Untreated lice, injuries, skin disorders etc

Appendix B – Dealing with a disclosure

A student who discloses abuse or neglect will often do so with great hesitation and with feelings of fear and guilt. Frequently they only hint or tell part of the story to see how the teacher reacts before fully disclosing.

A disclosure can often arouse strong feelings in the person to whom the disclosure is being made. Such reactions may include shock, anger, and helplessness. It is important to be aware and in control of these feelings and that they be dealt with following the disclosure. The School Chaplain or another appropriate member of staff may be of assistance in this regard.

It is not easy for students to disclose abuse or neglect as they may previously have been coerced, bribed or threatened into secrecy. They may need repeated reassurance that you believe them and that it was right to tell.

Public disclosure

It is possible that a student may start to disclose in class or with a group of other students. If disclosure does begin in a public area it is important to use the strategy of protective interrupting, namely:

  • acknowledge that you have heard the student and stop him/her disclosing any further;
  • be supportive and gently indicate that she/he may want to talk to you about it in a more private situation; and
  • quietly arrange to see the student as soon as possible, such as after the lesson, away from the other students.

Private disclosure

Sometimes students will try to elicit a promise that you will not tell anyone about the disclosure. If this happens it is important to explain that you have concerns about their safety and that you have to take action to ensure that they will be protected from further abuse. It is appropriate to say that you will need to tell the Principal about the matter.

The teacher’s, nurse’s or boarding supervisor’s role is to listen actively to what the student may say but not push for details, or conduct an investigation. Other agencies have this responsibility.

  • remain calm and try not to express panic, shock or disbelief;
  • acknowledge that it can be difficult to talk about such things;
  • reassure the student that it is right to tell and emphasise your belief in her/him;
  • emphasise that the student is not to blame;
  • assure the student that they have the right to feel safe;
  • accept what is said by the student (only minimum information is required for action);
  • try not to express a judgement about the perpetrator;
  • use appropriate vocabulary when speaking with the student;
  • don’t promise not to tell;
  • tell the student that the matter will be reported to a person outside the school who will be able to provide protection;
  • allow the student the option of having your support during the initial agency interview; and
  • reassure the student that support will continue at school.

Appendix C – Flow chart of mandatory reporting procedure

Appendix D – Reporting procedures for the Principal

Where there is a disclosure of child abuse or strong concerns about the wellbeing of a child, the teacher or staff members involved must report the matter to the CPFS. The teacher or staff member must to report this to the Principal.

When the Principal is aware that a Mandatory Report has been made by a teacher or staff member, or if a staff member has been issued a formal warning or has ceased employment for breach of the staff Code of Conduct suspected to be grooming behavior, the Principal must:

If the matter involves a staff member, the Principal must also notify:

  • the Professional Standards Unit (PSU) of the Diocese of Perth
  • Teacher Registration Board of Western Australia (teaching staff only)

[NB: The Principle can notify the Teacher Registration Board of Western Australia using the Notice from Employer – Teacher Suspended, Dismissed or Resigned Section 42 form available under Further Information>Forms on the Teacher Registration Board of Western Australia’s website.]

The CPFS will involve other agencies such as the Child Abuse Unit of the Police Department and the Child Protection Unit at Perth Children’s Hospital where necessary. Where it is believed that the child is in immediate danger of harm, the Police Department will be actively involved to ensure the overall safety of the child.

It is the responsibility of the CPFS to:

  • react promptly to the School’s report;
  • determine if, in fact, abuse has occurred or that neglect is evident;
  • initiate, if necessary, immediate remedial action, including involvement with other agencies; and
  • give feedback as appropriate to the Principal.

CPFS has the authority under the Children and Community Services Act to interview a child at school prior to contacting the parent/care giver. If an interview with a child by CPFS personnel is to take place on school premises without the parents’ knowledge, the child should be given the option of having support from a staff member with whom they feel comfortable.

It is the responsibility of school personnel to protect the children in their care by reporting their suspicions of child abuse and neglect to the CPFS through their Principal.

Appendix E – The legal implications of reporting

Teachers and boarding staff have a duty of care to students during school hours and at other times when the teacher/student or boarding staff/student relationship exists. Duty of care falls under the area of common law that is established by the courts, on the basis of precedent. The concept of duty of care requires that a teacher or boarding staff must take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which the teacher or boarding staff can reasonably foresee would be likely to injure the student and take steps to remove those dangers.

In ascertaining what is reasonable for a teacher to have foreseen, the Courts would amongst other matters enquire into:

  • the magnitude of risk;
  • the degree of probable occurrence; and
  • the difficulty in reducing the risk.

Where a teacher or boarding staff suspects a student is being abused/neglected the teacher or boarding staff should discuss her/his suspicions with the Principal who then has to judge whether to report the matter or not.

In the case of a direct disclosure, the teacher is obligated to report the incident to the Principal who is then obliged to report the matter to the CPFS.

In the case of sexual abuse the teacher/boarding staff is obliged to complete a mandatory report. (see Appendix E)

Failure to make a report can incur a penalty of up to $6,000.00.

It is the teacher’s or boarding staff’s responsibility to make the report directly to the Mandatory Reporting Service when the teacher or boarding staff forms a reasonable belief that sexual abuse has occurred, or is occurring. The Principal or other relevant staff are there to provide support if required. The teacher or boarding staff must advise the Principal of the report.  Appendix E is a flow chart outlining the procedure for the mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse for independent schools.

Teachers may be reluctant to report suspected cases of child abuse and/or neglect because they are afraid of the effect this may have on their relationship with other students or the family of the child involved. If teachers or boarding staff make reports through the proper channels and with the best interests of the child in mind, they are protected in the event of legal action being taken against them and are entitled to invoke the defence of qualified privilege.

This may be interpreted as follows:

if a person makes a statement that is possibly defamatory to another person with a ‘like interest’ but the first person has a legitimate interest, either legal or moral, in the situation, qualified privilege protects the first person. If a teacher or boarding staff makes a statement in good faith to the Principal or other authorities about a situation the teacher suspects exists and which the teacher or boarding staff considers may be harmful to the child, a valid defence exists under common law.

The defence of qualified privilege does not cover general discussion in the staffroom, conversation with other parents or members of the general community. It should be noted that the defence of qualified privilege will not be available where complaints are made upon spurious grounds, in bad faith, or without reasonable grounds to make the complaint. Teachers or boarding staff must follow the procedures and maintain absolute confidentiality.

“The Children and Community Services Act 2004 gives police officers and officers of the CPFS, where authorised, the power to apprehend children in need of protection.”

Appendix F – Providing a Child Safe Environment

The School employs the following strategies to reduce the risk to students:

  • open visible spaces in gardens and outdoors
  • clear lines of sight throughout the buildings
  • locking rooms/storerooms to prevent children from being isolated
  • installing windows in doors and/or ensuring rooms can be viewed from the outside
  • installing bright lighting in all areas
  • ability to access video surveillance which provides coverage of the school campus
  • random checks of obstructed and out-of-the-way locations by staff on duty (eg dressing rooms, first aid rooms or sporting grounds away from main buildings)
  • routine schedule of staff and prefects on duty to monitor student behavior and safety and to provide formal and informal line-of-sight supervision
  • consultation with students about physical and online environments and what makes them feel safe
  • a strong prevention and awareness focus, by educating children, parents, staff, volunteers and the school community about safety and security

In addition to the strategies above, the Residential Community:

  • is designed in wings, with long passageways and open areas to enhance sight lines
  • duty staff are trained and reminded regularly, to actively patrol the facility, ensuring adequate duty of care and reducing the chance of abuse, assault and self harm. Two staff are on duty in each house in the evenings, patrolling different areas
  • regular roll calls are taken during the day/night to ensure staff sight boys several times per day.

The School is also committed to the safety and wellbeing of children and young people in the online environment without compromising a child’s right to privacy, access to information, social connections and learning opportunities. The strategies employed are:

  • Students are bound by the ICT acceptable use and electronic communications (student) policy and guidelines
  • Paul Litherland is engaged annually to educate students in Years 4 to 9 on cybersafety
  • Student emails, searches (and for boarders, Facebook messages) are monitored for high-risk phrases (eg self-harm) and alerts are sent to the School psychologist for follow-up
  • A duty of care policy on the School firewall prevents staff and students access to high-risk website categories such as self-harm, child abuse images, pornography, while further categories such as nudity, child inappropriate, tobacco, illegal drugs are blocked from student access
  • Staff and students are advised that the use of the Internet is for school related activities only and that all access to the Internet is monitored and logged
  • Staff will not accept or initiate online friendships with CCGS and non-CCGS students
  • The Director of the Centre for Boys’ Health and Well-being and the Digital Learning Co-ordinator educated students on how to protect their reputation and to be safe online
  • Staff are briefed at the start of the year on acceptable ICT behaviour and approved online interaction with students.

Appendix G – Questions and concerns

Must I keep written records?

As a teacher or boarding staff you should keep brief written records of your observations including dates, the nature of the indicators, and injuries, if any. Principals are also expected to keep written records of the notification. Pastoral support staff should also keep records of their involvement in such cases (eg. the School Nurse should keep records of physical indicators, and the Chaplain and other Pastoral staff behavioural and family indicators).

Can the written records I keep be used in evidence?

Yes. If the investigating officers want to use the School’s written records they must apply in writing to the Principal. All types of official records kept in these cases may be subpoenaed and must be provided to the court. If the Principal, teacher or boarding staff receives a subpoena, legal advice should be sought through the Director of Finance.

Is there a time limit on suspected offences? Am I expected to report an offence that happened, for example, five years ago?

There is no Statute of Limitations on reports of sexual and physical abuse and assault. All suspected cases of child abuse and neglect must be reported, irrespective of when they may have occurred. The decision about whether to proceed with prosecution will be made by the appropriate external agency.

How soon after finding out about a case of child abuse or neglect am I expected to make a notification?

Notification is to be given promptly to the Principal, who must report the situation to the CPFS. It is recommended that you make the report on the same day as you find out.

Can I be called to give evidence?

Yes, a teacher or boarding staff can be called to give evidence. It is rare for a notified to be called as a witness. It is understood that teachers and boarding staff are placed in a difficult position when asked to give evidence in court and for this reason it is avoided if possible.

What will happen if I have to go to court? What legal support will the School provide?

If you are called to give evidence in a child protection case, you will not lose pay. Ensure that the Principal is informed if you are required to attend court. The Director of Finance can arrange for legal support and advice on making statements. Ensure that you prepare yourself for the courtroom experience and arrange to communicate directly with your legal representative prior to the hearing.

Am I expected to report abuse if the perpetrator is a colleague or someone I know?

Yes. The identity of the perpetrator is irrelevant to the responsibility of teachers to report. The procedures outlined in this document apply, whoever the perpetrator is.

Does the offender have to be told who notified?

Mandatory reporting legislation in Western Australia offers significant legal protections to persons involved in making reports. The legislation provides consistent protection to people reporting any concern for a child’s wellbeing to the CPFS, regardless of whether the report is about sexual or other abuse. However, where a person who has notified an alleged offence is required to give evidence, their identity may be revealed in those proceedings. As a general rule both the reporter’s and informant’s identities must not be disclosed to others and penalties of up to two years imprisonment and a $24,000.00 fine could be imposed for doing so. Any breaches of this policy should be reported to the Principal.

What happens after a report is made?

After a mandatory reporter makes a report, the Mandatory Reporting Service will:

  • Acknowledge receipt of the report.
  • Provide the Western Australia Police with a copy of the written report.
  • Make enquiries and an assessment, and then take the necessary action.
  • Assist the Western Australia Police, who may undertake a separate investigation.

It is important to note that the safety and welfare of the child is all important and that this is the primary concern of the School, the Commission and the CPFS. No action will be taken which may jeopardise the safety of the child.

Appendix H – Department for Child Protection and Family Support (WA)

The Department for Child Protection and Family Support, through its local Divisional Offices, has the statutory responsibility for assessing complaints of suspected child abuse and neglect and providing support and protective services when appropriate. The Duty Officer of the local Divisional Office should be contacted to make a report of suspected child abuse and neglect. It is not necessary that the person reporting ‘knows’ that child abuse and neglect has occurred. It is appropriate to contact the Duty Officer if an individual believes that the child is likely to have been abused or neglected or is at significant risk of harm of this kind. The Duty Officer, in consultation with a Senior Officer will determine the need to undertake an investigation of what is happening to that child and the child’s family. ALL Departmental reports are confidential and neither the child nor the parents/guardian will be informed of the source of the report. Consultation regarding child protection matters is available through the Senior Social Worker -Child Protection, at the local Divisional Office.

It is a requirement that the Department for Child Protection and Family Support advise the organisation (which has referred an allegation of abuse or neglect) of the outcome of the assessment. The philosophy of the Department for Child Protection and Family Support is to provide services to the child and the child’s family, with the child remaining in his or her own home wherever this is possible and appropriate. In most cases, services are provided while the child remains in the home. In some instances, however, this is not possible and, either for the protection of the child or the need for respite for the family, temporary out-of-home placement may be arranged. Any situation that requires non-voluntary intervention or the removal of a child is placed before a court, which ultimately makes the decision regarding the care and protection of the child in question.

Note 1: CPFS has a 24 hour Helpline – Crisis Care – 9223 1111 or 1800 199 008.
Note 2: The Advisory and Coordinating Committee and Child Abuse (ACCCA) has now been incorporated into the Child Maltreatment Unit of the Department for Child Protection