Early childhood members to report on suspected child abuse
Early childhood members must report suspected child harm and abuse after recent legislation was passed by the Queensland government.
- All approved Queensland education and care services must now legally report suspected child abuse.
- Legislative changes will include clearly defined terms and concepts so educators are clear on their reporting requirements.
- Legislation to come in to effect on 1 July 2017.
What’s the issue?
Following the recent tabling of the Child Protection (Mandatory Reporting – Mason’s Law) Amendment Bill 2016, ongoing consultation occurred with our union and industry representatives regarding the extension of the state’s mandatory reporting laws to the sector.
All approved Queensland education and care services must now act as mandatory reporters after the state government amended sections of the Child Protection Act 1999, Education and Care Services Act 2013 (Qld) and Education and Care Services National Law (Qld) Act 2011.
While educators have always been able to report any concerns they may have about a child, these changes mean they are now legally required to report to the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services if they reasonably suspect a child is in need of protection.
The legislative changes will include clearly defined terms and concepts so educators are clear on their reporting requirements.
A review of the legislation was undertaken in 2015 by the Queensland Law Reform Commission, with the majority of stakeholders supporting the position that early childhood education professionals be required to report child safety concerns.
How will this affect members?
Legislation was originally expected to come into effect from 1 January 2017; however, the government has stated that subject to consultation with the sector, they are now working to a 1 July 2017 start date.
According to the government, this was to ensure educators are provided with the necessary information, training and support to embed appropriate reporting behaviour before the amendments take effect.
The changes will see Queensland educators adhere to the same child abuse notification guidelines as all states and territories except Victoria and Western Australia.