Posted: February 16th, 2022

The child protection laws and legislations in Australia

Relevant state legislations

The child protection laws and legislations in Australia are splintered, there is no uniform model for the whole country and the policies, laws, and legislations vary from state to state across the nation (Falkiner et al., 2017). 

In Victoria there are a spectrum of the actions that entail child abuse and risk their exposure to physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, these actions include children being victims of family violence, left in the presence of someone who is a registered sexual offender, leaving them under the supervision  of someone with mental health issues or someone with addictions, and engaging in neglectful activities like not providing them with basic necessities of food, clothing and shelter (www.legalaid.vic.gov.au, 2021). The specific laws that see to the implementation of child protection services in the state of Victoria are Children Youth and Families Act, 2005, and the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act, 2005 (aihw.gov.au,2021). The people who are authorized to make a mandatory report differ from state to state and in some states the professions are specified in who is required to make the report. Victoria has a more exhaustive list that states that any adult or can make a mandatory report in the case of reasonable belief that there has been an act of sexual violence on a child below the age of 16, by someone above the ages of 18, and failure to report it is a criminal offence unless there is a valid reason that doing so is not the best courses of action. The other group  of people who are required to make a mandatory report include medical professionals like doctors, nurses, midwives, a registered teacher or an early childhood teacher who have the authority to report on both sexual and physical violence. The laws that guide both the groups respectively are, Sections 327 of Crimes Act, 1958, and Sections 182 (1) (a)-(e),  184, and 162 (c)-(d), of the Children, Youth and Families Act, 2005 (aymn.org.au, 2021).

It is necessary for a community worker to make a mandatory report if they suspect that the following activities have been going on in the life of the child or if they have definite proof that the child has been victimized. Through their interactions directly with the child or indirectly, if they assess that intervention is necessary, then they need to make the report or face criminal charges. Community workers need  to utilize a slew of skills when they are dealing with children. The workers need to be flexible in their approach and the tactics they employ, changing them according to the client and the different needs of the same client, they also need to be authentic in their practice for helping and providing support to the children (Stabler et al., 2019). Community workers often deal with children in unfavourable circumstances and who are more likely to experience abuse and violence. Community workers, because of their profession also, are often entrusted with the responsibility of children who have been removed from a certain problematic scenario, only to face abuse and neglect in the same environment that is meant to protect them. In this case it is the role of the community worker to become a place of support to the child and offer them protection under the mandated laws and policies. Mandatory reporting plays an important role in community services because community workers usually have the necessary training to determine if the child is facing any type of abuse. They also have the relevant skills as a result of their training that allows them to step in and aid the child. Community workers also have the scope of dealing with vulnerable children thus it is their duty to make a mandatory report if they believe a child is a victim. They can become the sources of primary intervention for the child and protect them from further abuse. As a result of the skills and training provided in community services and the importance of the professionals in the field of community services in dealing with vulnerable children, mandatory reporting becomes the main determining factor of the stage in which the abuse will be identified and intervened at, which influences the outcome of the child.


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