Mandatory Reporting

Mandatory reporting is the legislative requirement for certain people to report suspected child abuse and neglect to government authorities. Mandatory reporting legislation seeks to protect children and young people, under the age of 16 in NSW and under the age of 18 in the ACT.

The Synod is committed to having reporting structures in place to support mandatory reporting. This includes developing and communicating policy and procedures aimed at ensuring best practice in child protection reporting
Mandatory reporting laws differ in NSW and the ACT so it’s important to read and understand the Synod guideline for your state. In NSW, mandatory reporting is regulated by the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 and in the ACT by the Children and Young People Act 2008 (ACT)

There are various forms of child abuse. The specific definitions vary by state and are outlined in the Synod Guidelines for NSW and the ACT but a general definition for each is provided below.

Sexual abuse is any sexual act or threat impacting on a child and includes comments, physical contact, exposure to adult sexual activity and exposure to or involvement in sexual imagery.

Physical abuse is the non-accidental injury of a child by an adult. An injury can be caused by a single act or repeated acts. Examples include but are not limited to hitting, shaking, burning, excessive physical discipline, attempted suffocation 

Emotional abuse - is when a child repeatedly experiences events that cause significant harm to their wellbeing or development e.g.  constant yelling, belittling, ignoring and ridiculing.

Neglect – A parent, carer or person with parental responsibility fails to provide a child with life’s basic necessities causing significant harm to the child’s wellbeing or development

Family Violence refers to situations where children or young people are exposed to family violence by seeing or hearing the physical, sexual or psychological abuse between parents or caregivers; or where they are put at risk of exposure to family violence. that has or would cause significant harm

Mandatory (or mandated in the ACT) reporters are those people who are required by law to report suspected child abuse and neglect to specified government authorities. All adults in the ACT are also Voluntary Reporters. Voluntary reporting allows any person who is concerned about a child or unborn child to make a Child Concern Report to Child and Youth Protective services in the ACT.

While the legislation between NSW and ACT differs, all ministry agents and anyone who works with children either on a paid or voluntary basis are Mandatory Reporters.

All mandatory reporters must understand their responsibilities under the law. They should also have a clear understanding of the UCA National Child Safe Policy Framework and all relevant Synod policies and procedures. Church councils should identify those in their church community who are mandatory reporters and ensure they have completed the appropriate Safe Church Awareness Training modules and that all training is current.

The Synod guidelines outline the responsibilities of Mandatory reporters in NSW and Mandated Reporters in the ACT and the procedure for making a report.

If any mandatory reporter has reasonable grounds to believe a child is at risk of abuse or neglect as defined by the legislation in NSW and the ACT they must report their concerns to the NSW department of Communities and Justice or the Child and Youth Protection Service in the ACT. A Mandatory reporter may form an opinion that a child is being abused from observation or a child may disclose abuse. Reports must be made as soon as possible. Complete a submission online at the link  ‘Make a Mandatory Report” below or download the form and email to safechurch@nswact.uca.org.au

Mandatory Reporters are protected under the legislation for reports made with honesty and without recklessness. Mandatory Reporters must not undertake their own investigation.

Synod Safe Church Unit can assist with mandatory reporting. Please refer to the Mandatory Reporting Guidelines for further details or fill in a contact form here.

Mandatory reporters can make a report directly to the relevant body using the links below.

For NSW: https://reporter.childstory.nsw.gov.au/s/mrg

For ACT: https://form.act.gov.au/smartforms/csd/child-concern-report/


Methods of Contact

Email marked Mandatory Reporting to:  safechurch@nswact.uca.org.au

In writing addressed to the General Secretary marked Private and Confidential:
Uniting Church in Australia
PO Box A2178, Sydney South NSW 1235
By phone to the General Secretary advising you wish to make a mandatory report:
(02) 8267 4300
 

If you have information of a reportable allegation involving the General Secretary you may notify the Moderator:
(02) 8267 4300
moderator@nswact.uca.org.au