Mandatory reporting obligations
All staff have a responsibility to recognise and respond to safety, welfare or wellbeing concerns for children and young people and inform their principal or workplace manager. It is the responsibility of principals and workplace managers to report suspected risk of significant harm concerns to the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) Child Protection Helpline.
Making the most appropriate reporting decision
The Mandatory Reporter Guide (or MRG) assists mandatory reporters to make the most appropriate reporting decision. The MRG supports mandatory reporters, like the principal and other school staff, to:
- determine whether a report to the DCJ Child Protection Helpline is needed for concerns about possible abuse or neglect of a child or young person
- identify alternative ways to support vulnerable children, young people and their families such as contacting the Child Wellbeing Unit.
Note: Principals and workplace managers have the role to report to DCJ Child Protection Helpline or contact the Child Wellbeing Unit - under centralised reporting.
Reporting suspected risk of significant harm
Principals and workplace managers must report concerns about suspected risk of harm directly to the DCJ Child Protection Helpline in one of two ways:
- Phone 132 111 (TTY 1800 212 936), if the suspected risk of significant harm is imminent or high. DCJ Child Protection Helpline can be contacted 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so peak times can be avoided.
- Send an eReport if there is suspected risk of significant harm that is not imminent or high. Further information about the eReporting process can be found in 'How to create an eReport' or you can contact eReport Support on 1300 760 641 for technical support with eReporting.
Note: All eReports should contain details about concerns and about actions already taken. eReports will generally be assessed on the information they contain.
A record of any reports made to the DCJ Child Protection Helpline and any related documentation, including the MRG outcome report and written records of actions taken in following up the concerns must be kept in a confidential and secure location.
Principals and workplace managers may also access the Child Wellbeing Unit (staff only) for support and advice about meeting their child protection mandatory reporting obligations. The Child Wellbeing Unit is located within the department's state office and is staffed Monday to Friday 8:30am-5:30pm.
Problematic or harmful sexualised behaviours from students
Staff should inform the principal when they become aware a student is engaging in problematic or harmful sexual behaviour. Concerns about these behaviours should be referred to the Child Wellbeing Unit, unless an emergency response is required. Avoid stigmatising or isolating a student who has engaged in problematic or harmful sexualised behaviours, without compromising the safety of other students, and showing care for all students.
For more information see Sexualised behaviour between students (staff only).
Working with other agencies
Mandatory reporting responsibilities do not cease once a report is made to the DCJ Child Protection Helpline or contact is made with the department's Child Wellbeing Unit. It is the responsibility of staff to support students within their role and to communicate and collaborate with any other agencies and services that are working with a student or family.
The child protection system in NSW is one of shared responsibility. Schools and agencies are required to work together to prioritise the safety, welfare and wellbeing of children and young people while supporting each other's primary functions and expertise.
Further information about government and non-government agencies working together to deliver child wellbeing and protection services is available in the Child Wellbeing and Child Protection NSW Interagency Guidelines.
Sharing information between schools, agencies and local services is critical to provide effective support for families and strengthening the protection of children in our schools.
Information can be provided or requested with certain non-government and government agencies under Chapter 16A of the Children and Young Persons Care and Protection Act 1998. The following links provide details of what you need to know about exchanging information with other agencies:
- Legal Issues Bulletin 50 - Exchanging Information with Other Agencies
- Legal Issues Bulletin 47 - Requests for information from other government agencies
- The Child Wellbeing and Child Protection - NSW Interagency Guidelines
- Information Sharing Between Principals and Schools - Fact Sheet (PDF 127.56KB).
The NSW Department of Communities and Justice website provides further information on protecting children.
For more detailed information refer to the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 No 157.
- Child Protection Policy: Responding to and reporting students at risk of harm sets out roles and responsibilities of staff in relation to child protection including training, reporting on safety, and supporting children and young people, as well as monitoring, evaluation and reporting requirements.
- Child Protection Policy Guidelines: Responding to and reporting students at risk of harm
- Working With Children Check Policy
- Allegations against Employees in the Area of Child Protection
- Incident Reporting Policy (staff only)
Principals and workplace managers can contact the Child Wellbeing Unit. Other staff should contact your principal, executive officer or director.
For child protection policy advice
- Child Protection Advisor - 02 7814 2919
For advice about child protection training
- Child Wellbeing Unit (staff only)
- Professional and Ethical Standards (PES) (EPAC) (staff only)
Duty Officer - 02 7814 3722 (02 7814 EPAC)
- Incident Report and Support Hotline - 1800 811 523
Mandatory Reporter Guide (MRG)
If you are concerned about the safety of a student you are encouraged to use the Mandatory Reporter Guide.
The guide helps determine whether you should make a report to the Child Protection Helpline, or identify alternative ways to support vulnerable children in cases of abuse or neglect.