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Who to call when you suspect abuse

 
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One of the most serious duties educators and carers have is the obligation to act when they reasonably suspect that a child is in need of protection from abuse or neglect.

Early childhood education and care (ECEC) professionals are bound by law to report to Child Safety, 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
  • a child may not have a parent who is able and willing to protect them from harm.

It is vital that educators and carers know when to report to Child Safety and when to take other action.

Mandatory reporters—a group that also includes police, doctors and teachers—made up half of all reports to Child Safety in the past year.

But about 3 of every 4 reports did not meet the threshold for further investigation by Child Safety.

For these reports, another pathway is available: Family and Child Connect (FaCC). FaCC services operate in 17 locations across Queensland and are an easily accessible referral point for professionals working with families who may need support.

FaCC also supports families experiencing vulnerability by assessing their needs, providing information and advice, and referring them to the most appropriate support service.

A Child Safety Officer, known as the Principal Child Protection Practitioner (PCPP), provides support and advice to each FaCC service.

The PCPP assists in identifying any concerns which should be reported to Child Safety and will facilitate this process if required.

So when should ECEC professionals refer to FaCC instead of Child Safety?

A quick way of getting answers is to enter general details of the child’s circumstances into the Online Child Protection Guide, which will suggest a pathway for referring to FaCC or reporting to Child Safety.

A longer term strategy for making informed decisions is to register with NAPCAN for mandatory reporter training.

Importantly, you cannot refer families to FaCC without their consent. The department offers a fact sheet for ECEC professionals about how to have this sensitive conversation with families.

The severity of the abuse is not the only factor that determines whether a report meets the notification threshold at Child Safety.

Another factor that must be considered is whether the child has a parent at home who is willing and able to protect them from harm.

Parents have the primary responsibility for a child’s wellbeing, and the best place for a child is generally at home with family.

This is where FaCC comes in. They connect families to services that help them overcome addiction, unemployment, domestic violence and the other worries that can sometimes affect a family’s ability to cope with the stresses of raising children.

FaCC workers will advise early childhood education and care professionals and work with the family to link them with the support they need.

For more resources on mandatory reporting, including videos, posters and factsheets, visit the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women’s website.

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.


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Last updated 17 October 2019