Reporting incidents and concerns
It is important that all staff in ECEC services drive a culture of advocacy for children. If you are concerned or have a suspicion that a child is at risk of abuse, harm, neglect or ill-treatment, you should talk to someone about it. You should refer to your service’s policies and procedures on child safety, child protection or complaints handling to understand who you can talk to.
It is important that any concerns or suspicions you may have are discussed with an appropriate person, this might include your manager or supervisor and/or a relevant agency. If you are worried that your concerns have not been appropriately addressed, you should contact a relevant agency for more information. Information on which relevant agency you should report to is below.
Reporting and legal obligations
ECEC staff have reporting requirements to different agencies under the following laws:
- NSW Police - Crimes Act 1900
- NSW Department Communities and Justice: Mandatory Reporting - the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998
- NSW Department of Education: notifying incidents, complaints and allegations - Education and Care Services National Regulations
- Office of the Children’s Guardian: Reportable Conduct Scheme - Children’s Guardian Act 2019.
The NSW Department of Education administers the regulation of services in accordance with the Children (Education and Care Services) National Law and the Education and Care Services National Regulations. When reporting an incident to the Department, depending on the circumstances of the report, you should consider if a report is also required for any of the other relevant agencies.
When to report to:
If you are concerned that a child’s immediate safety is compromised, this should be reported to the NSW Police by calling 000.
Any conduct towards a child that you suspect may be criminal in nature should also be reported to the NSW Police.
Services should follow police direction on a criminal matter, which may impact upon their own investigative or risk management response.
This factsheet may help to identify conduct that is criminal in nature. If you are unsure if it is a criminal matter, call the Police Assistance Line on 131 444.
Educators in centre-based and family day care education and care services are ‘mandatory reporters’ under NSW child protection law.
Mandatory reporters must make a report to the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) when they have current concerns about the safety, welfare or wellbeing of a child for any of the following reasons:
- the basic physical or psychological needs of the child or young person are not being met (neglect)
- the parents or caregivers have not arranged necessary medical care for the child or young person (unwilling or unable to do so)
- the parents or caregivers have not arranged for the child or young person to receive an education in accordance with the Education Act 1990 (unwilling or unable to do so)
- risk of physical or sexual abuse or ill-treatment
- the parents’ or caregivers’ behaviour towards the child causes or risks serious psychological harm (emotional abuse)
- incidents of domestic violence are placing a child or young person at risk of serious physical or psychological harm (domestic or family violence)
- the child was the subject in a prenatal report and the birth mother did not engage successfully with support services.
There are two ways you can make a child protection report:
- by calling the Child Protection Helpline on 132 111
- by eReport through the ChildStory Reporter website.
If you are a mandatory reporter in NSW and you have concerns that a child or young person is at risk of being neglected or abused, you should use the NSW Mandatory Reporter Guide to determine whether a report is needed.
Further information can be found on the Department of Communities and Justice website.
The Reportable Conduct Scheme is administered by the Office of the Children’s Guardian under the Children’s Guardian Act 2019.
The scheme keeps children safe by monitoring how certain organisations (‘relevant entities’) investigate and report on types of conduct ('reportable allegations' or 'reportable convictions') made against their employees, volunteers or certain contractors who provide services to children. Relevant entities include approved education and care services, including family day care.
When the head of a relevant entity (for example, the approved provider) becomes aware of a reportable allegation or reportable conviction, they must notify the Office of the Children's Guardian within 7 business days and conduct an investigation into the allegations.
Information and resources are available on the Office of the Children’s Guardian website
- Fact sheets to assist you to understand and meet your reportable conduct scheme responsibilities. Topics include identifying reportable allegations, heads of entities and reportable conduct responsibilities, planning and conducting investigations, keeping records, disclosing information to children, parents and carers, and FAQs
- A 30-minute training video explaining the Reportable Conduct Scheme
- Notification forms
If you have any questions about the scheme, please contact the Reportable Conduct Enquiries Line on (02) 8219 3800 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Approved providers are required to notify the regulatory authority within 7 days of:
- any incident where the approved provider reasonably believes that physical or sexual abuse of a child or children has occurred or is occurring while the child is being educated and cared for by the service
- allegations that physical or sexual abuse of a child or children has occurred or is occurring while the child is being educated and cared for by the service; and
- any circumstance at the service that poses a risk to the health, safety or wellbeing of a child attending the service
Notifications should be made through NQA ITS.
When the department receives a notification of an incident or allegation of child physical or sexual abuse, the department will conduct a preliminary assessment and may obtain further details from the service.
The notification may be forwarded to the department’s investigation team where investigators may visit the service and speak with educators and staff about the incident/s or allegation/s. They may provide support with the service’s response, for example, reminding the service of their reporting obligations to other agencies.
When conducting an investigation, the department will ensure ongoing liaison with the service and families.
The department can share information with other relevant authorities, including the NSW Police, Department of Communities and Justice, and Office of the Children’s Guardian. The department’s investigators may liaise with these agencies to establish facts about the incident/s or allegation/s and determine whether an offence against the National Law and/or Regulations has been or is being committed.
The NSW Police, Department of Communities and Justice and Office of the Children’s Guardian have different legislative powers and may make other determinations in relation to the incident/s or allegation/s.
Download the Responding to incidents, disclosures and suspicions of child abuse (PDF, 126KB) - a resource designed to support ECEC staff with their reporting requirements.