Child safety reporting obligations
- Practitioners working within human and community services need to be familiar with their reporting obligations in relation to children and adults exposed to domestic, family and sexual violence.
Stay up-to-date on policies and legal obligations
In most States and Territories, there are legal requirements associated with child safety responses that are specific to particular industries. In addition, relevant State and Territory Departmental policies may require staff to report children or adults who have been affected by, or are at risk of experiencing domestic and family violence to the police or child protection agencies.
Managers should be familiar with all relevant reporting policies and laws, and ensure that frontline staff are updated on a regular basis. Many services have ongoing supervision or case conferencing protocols specific to child safety concerns and risk escalation policies.
Appropriate record-keeping relating to disclosures of domestic, family and sexual violence is an important tool for client and organisational risk management. Detailed records can also support information sharing processes relevant to organisations and State or Territory mandates and potential legal actions relating to criminal charges or family law parenting matters.
Respecting the privacy and confidentiality of the person disclosing their experience is always an important consideration when it comes to responding and reporting. You should take into account privacy laws, other laws (for example, the Family Law ACT 1975) and confidentiality policies as well as informed consent of the individual.
There are also limitations to confidentiality, which can include:
- Child safety issues
- Reporting of serious injuries where a criminal offence may have been committed
- Information sharing for the purpose of promoting client safety, where this is appropriate under state or territory laws or local Memoranda of Understanding (MOU).
Other confidentiality issues include:
- The potential use of service or professional records as evidence in criminal or family law proceedings
- Security of storage, including electronic or cloud storage
- Therapeutic or service needs.