Protecting children from abuse and neglect


One of the most serious duties early childhood education and care (ECEC) staff have is the obligation to act when they reasonably suspect that a child is in need of protection from abuse or neglect. All children have a right to be safe and protected from harm.

Under the Education and Care Services National Law and Regulations:

  • persons in day-to-day charge and the nominated supervisor of an ECEC service must complete child protection training – s162A of the Education and Care Services National Law (Queensland)
  • the approved provider of an ECEC service must ensure that nominated supervisors and staff members at the service who work with children are advised of the existence and application of current child protection law, and any obligations that they may have under that law – r84 of the Education and Care Services National Regulations.

In addition, ECEC providers and staff should be aware of:

Mandatory reporting

Early childhood education and care professionals must report to Child Safety by law, where they reasonably suspect that a child:

  • has suffered, is suffering, or is at risk of suffering significant harm caused by sexual or physical abuse
  • may not have a parent who is able and willing to protect them from harm.

Mandatory reporters also include police, doctors, nurses and teachers.

The following resources can support early childhood staff to make informed decisions.

  • Information sheets and FAQs on mandatory reporting for early childhood education and care professionals.
  • Mandatory reporter training through the National Association for Prevention of Child abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN).
  • The Child Protection Guide—a web-based decision support tool to assist professionals to report their concerns to the appropriate statutory agency or to refer children and their families to a family support service.

Family and Child Connect

With families' consent, early childhood staff can refer them to Family and Child Connect (FaCC) services that operate in 17 locations across Queensland. FaCCs are an easily accessible referral point for professionals working with families who may need support.

​Early childhood professionals must report any reasonable suspicions of child abuse and neglect to Child Safety's Regional Intake Services. If you are unsure, or think a family should be linked to a support service, phone FaCC on 13 32 64.

Recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (Royal Commission)

Responding to harmful sexual behaviours

The Royal Commission made a number of recommendations on how to respond to children with harmful sexual behaviours (recommendations 10.1–10.5).
Understanding what is age-appropriate sexual behaviour, what is problem sexual behaviour​ and what actions to take are key to protecting children in early childhood education and care.

​In response to the Royal Commission's recommendations, early childhood education and care providers can find information about protecting children from sexual abuse at the Queensland Government website.

Record keeping

The Royal Commission also made a number of recommendations to improve records and record keeping practices within institutions (Recommendations 8.1 and 8.4).

As best practice to help proactively protect children in early education and care services, providers are encouraged to voluntarily adopt the Queensland State Archives' guideline on creating and keeping records for proactive protection of vulnerable persons (PDF, 245KB), and accompanying disposal authorisations.

The guidelines focus on:

  • considering risks proactively across your service/organisation
  • trying to minimise those risks
  • developing an overarching policy
  • identifying, making and keeping the records needed (including the disposal authorisations)
  • identifying those records that may be needed as evidence of abuse.

In addition to these voluntary measures, early childhood education and care services must comply with record keeping requirements under the relevant legislation.

Learn more at the Royal Commission website.​​
Last updated 16 March 2023