Mandatory reporting

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Child sexual abuse and mandatory reporting intervention preservice content preferred by student teachers.
GoldmanJ and Grimbeek P
Journal of Child Sexual Abuse v. 23 no. 1 Jan/Feb 2014: 1-16

To help inform teacher training, this article investigates the needs and preferences of student teachers concerning child sexual abuse in Australia. This includes information on the identification of abuse, teacher role, responses and procedures after disclosure, and mandatory reporting.

Child protection Australia 2011-12
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
Canberra, ACT : Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2013.

This report provides statistics on child protection services in Australia for the 2011/2012 period. It provides data on child protection notifications, investigations and substantiations, children on care and protection orders, characteristics of children in out-of-home care, kinship care and foster care households, and intensive family support services. Statistics are provided by state and territory, with comparisons with previous years where appropriate, and with statistics for Indigenous children. This report also contains feature sections on mandatory reporting requirements, child protection legislation, policy and practice differences across Australia, and recent policy developments. Between 2010/11 and 2011/12, the number of children who were the subject of substantiations increased from 31,527 to 37,781 - an increase in the rate from 6.1 to 7.4 per 1,000 children.

Mandatory reporting of child abuse and neglect
Mathews B and Scott D
Melbourne, Vic. : Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2013.

The legal requirement to report suspected cases of child abuse and neglect is known as mandatory reporting. This paper explains the different legal provisions across the states and territories of Australia, regarding who is legally mandated to report suspected child abuse, what type of concerns must be reported, and the benefits and challenges of mandatory reporting.

Emerging issues
Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry
Brisbane, Qld. : Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry, 2012.

The Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry was established on 1 July 2012 to review the performance and effectiveness of the child protection system in Queensland. This preliminary discussion paper provides background information on the six key issues that the Commission has reviewed so far, prior to the release of a more detailed discussion paper next year. These key issues are: mandatory reporting, Indigenous over-representation, investment in secondary services, responding to children and families with complex needs, growth in demand for out-of-home care, and workforce and workload issues.

Understanding teachers' reporting of child sexual abuse : measurement methods matter.
Walsh K, Mathews B, Rassafiani M, Farrell A and Butler D
Children and Youth Services Review v. 34 no. 9 Sep 2012: 1937-1946

This article examines the factors influencing teachers' reporting of child sexual abuse in Australia. Based on a survey of 470 teachers, it studies actual past and anticipated future reporting behaviour and the factors influencing these, such as reporting attitudes, system attitudes, policy knowledge, and concerns about consequences.

Child welfare policy and practice on children's exposure to domestic violence.
Cross T, Mathews B, Tonmyr L, Scott D and Ouimet C
Child Abuse and Neglect v. 36 no. 3 Mar 2012: 210-216

This article summarises current knowledge on the prevalence of children's exposure to domestic violence, and reviews child welfare policies in Australia, Canada, and the United States. It briefly discusses data collection, mandatory reporting, child protection initiatives, and differential response approaches.

Exploring the contested role of mandatory reporting laws in the identification of severe child abuse and neglect.
Mathews B
Freeman, Michael, ed. Law and childhood studies. Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2012. Current legal issues v. 14 9780199652501: 302-338

One argument against the mandatory reporting of child abuse is that it produces overreporting, leading to infringements of privacy and diverting scarce resources away from substantiated cases. This chapter examines the validity of this claim. It reviews the history and development of mandatory reporting laws, compares laws in western nations, and analyses data from the New South Wales child protection system, regarding their legislation changes, notifications, and substantiated cases of abuse.

The decision making processes adopted by rurally located mandated professionals when child abuse or neglect is suspected.
Francis K, Chapman Y, Sellick K, James A, Miles M, Jones J and Grant J
Contemporary Nurse v. 41 no. 1 Apr 2012 Special Issue, Advances in contemporary community and family health care, 3rd ed. 9781921980039 Advances in Contemporary Nursing no. 22: 58-69

The reporting of suspected child abuse and neglect is a mandated role of medical doctors, nurses, police and teachers in Victoria, Australia. This paper reports on a research study that sought to explicate how mandated professionals working in rural Victorian contexts identify a child/ren at risk and the decisions they make subsequently.

Child protection Australia 2010-11.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
Canberra, ACT : Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2012.

This report provides statistics on child protection services in Australia for the 2010/2011 period. It provides data on child protection notifications, investigations and substantiations, children on care and protection orders, characteristics of children in out-of-home care, kinship care and foster care households, and Intensive family support services. Statistics are provided by state and territory, with comparisons with previous years where appropriate, and with statistics for Indigenous children. This report also contains feature sections on mandatory reporting requirements, child protection legislation, policy and practice differences across Australia, recent policy changes, differences in data systems across Australia, and a glossary. Though the number of children subject to a notification has decreased significantly in recent years, the number of children in out of home care has increased, with 37,648 children in care in 2011.

Failing whom? The proposal to introduce 'failure to protect' laws in Victoria.
DVRCV Quarterly no. 3 Spring/Summer 2011: 15-16

The Victorian government is currently reviewing whether to adopt 'failure to protect' laws, similar to those found in South Australia, Northern Territory, and overseas. Such laws oblige adults take action if they believe a child in their care is being abused, and creates offences for adults who fail to take action. However, many people in the family violence sector have concerns about this proposal. This article summarises a joint submission prepared by a group of agencies from the Victorian Family Violence Justice Reform Campaign, including the Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria, Women's Legal Service Victoria, Federation of Community Legal Centres Victoria, No To Violence, Women with Disabilities Victoria and Domestic Violence Victoria. It outlines their concerns with the proposal, and suggests what is needed instead.

Women's views: moving forward on mandatory reporting of domestic and family violence in the Northern Territory (PDF)
West D
Darwin, NT : Charles Darwin University, 2011

In 2009 mandatory reporting of domestic violence by professionals and community members was enacted in the Northern Territory. This report was undertaken to analyse how this legislation impacted upon service providers and the safety of women and children. The report reveals that there were very mixed views about mandatory reporting. Concerns were expressed around the awareness of the legislation; the impact such legislation would have on the therapeutic relationship between staff and clients and a perceived lack of difference which the legislation had made to the safety of women and children.

Child abuse : mandatory reporting requirements.
Bird S
Australian Family Physician v. 40 no. 11 Nov 2011: 921-926

The aim of child abuse mandatory reporting legislation is to enable medical practitioners and other professionals to report cases without fear of criticism or reprisal. This article outlines the legal obligations of medical practitioners to report suspected child abuse in each state and territory of Australia, and the relevant legislation, definitions, and contact details.

Safeguarding children across services: messages from research
Davies C and Ward H
London : Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2011

"The Safeguarding Children Research Initiative [in Great Britain] is an important element in the government response to the Inquiry following the death of Victoria Climbie. Its purpose is to provide a stronger evidence base for the development of policy and practice to improve the protection of children in England. Eleven studies were commissioned as part of the Safeguarding Children Research Initiative. This Overview focuses on the findings from these studies, but also refers extensively to a further four important research studies that also reported during the same time period. This research provides an overview of the key messages from 15 studies, distilled to meet the needs of those professionals who seek to utilise such research findings to shape their day-to-day work. These include strategic and operational managers and practitioners, commissioners and providers of services, and policymakers in all those agencies that are required to work together to safeguard children."--Dept. for Education website.

Children's exposure to domestic violence in Australia
Richards K
Canberra : Australian Institute of Criminology, 2011.

Children's 'witnessing' or exposure to domestic violence has been increasingly recognised as a form of child abuse, both in Australia and internationally. Although it is difficult to accurately assess the scope of the problem, research has demonstrated that a substantial amount of domestic violence is witnessed by children. As this paper outlines, witnessing domestic violence can involve a range of incidents, ranging from the child 'only' hearing the violence, to the child being forced to participate in the violence or being used as part of a violent incident. In this paper, current knowledge about the extent of children's exposure to domestic violence in Australia is described, along with the documented impacts that this exposure can have on children. This includes psychological and behavioural impacts, health and socioeconomic impacts, and its link to the intergenerational transmission of violence and re-victimisation. Current legislative and policy initiatives are then described and some community-based programs that have been introduced in Australia to address the problem of children's exposure to domestic violence are highlighted. The paper concludes that initiatives focused on early intervention and holistic approaches to preventing and responding to children's exposure to domestic violence should be considered as part of strategies developed to address this problem. (Publisher abstract)

Child protection Australia 2009-10.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
Canberra, ACT : Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2011.

This report provides statistics on child protection services in Australia for the 2009/2010 period. It provides data on child protection notifications, investigations and substantiations, children on care and protection orders, characteristics of children in out-of-home care, characteristics of foster carer households, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in care, and Intensive family support services. Statistics are provided by state and territory, with comparisons with previous years where appropriate. This report also contains feature sections on mandatory reporting requirements, child protection legislation, policy and practice differences across Australia, recent policy changes, differences in data systems across Australia, and a glossary. In 2009/10, over 187,000 children were the subject of a child protection notification; just over 31,000 children were the subject of a substantiation; around 37,000 children were on care and protection orders; almost 36,000 children were living in out-of-home care; and there were almost 8,050 foster carer households.

Teachers' attitudes toward reporting child sexual abuse : problems with existing research leading to new scale development.
Walsh K, Rassafiani M, Mathews B, Farrell A and Butler D
Journal of Child Sexual Abuse v. 19 no. 3 2010: 310-336

This article investigates teacher attitudes towards reporting child sexual abuse. Part one presents findings from a literature review on teacher attitudes. Part two presents a 21-item scale for measuring teacher attitudes, and discusses the scale's development and preliminary testing. This study is part of a larger project on child sexual abuse reporting in Australian primary schools.

Longitudinal trends in child protection statistics in South Australia : a study of unit record data.
Delfabbro P, Hirte C, Wilson R and Rogers N
Children Australia v. 35 no. 3 2010: 4-10

In Australia, it is commonly reported that rates of child protection notifications have increased over time, More and more children in any given year are subject to a child protection notification, On the whole, these conclusions have been based on cross-sectional notification counts or rates recorded in a given year. Although useful, such analyses are limited in that they do not account for the fact that child protection incidents are unevenly distributed across individual cases. Cross-sectional analyses also do not indicate the incidence of notifications within a given cohort of children. In this paper, we summarise the longitudinal and comparative analysis of data relating to children born in 1991, 1998 and 2002. The results highlight the increasingly early involvement of child protection systems in children's lives, higher annual incidence rates, as well as increasingly steep cumulative involvement curves for cohorts tracked from their year of birth. The implications of these findings for mandatory reporting policies are discussed.

Teachers reporting child sexual abuse : towards evidence-based reform of law, policy and practice : final report
Mathews B, Walsh K, Butler D and Farrell A
Brisbane : Queensland University of Technology, 2010.

This report examines the state of law, policy, and practice regarding the reporting of child sexual abuse by primary school teachers in New South Wales, Queensland, and Western Australia. Based on legislation and policy as of 1st January 2007, the report investigates current legislative requirements, school polices, past reporting practices, and teacher training and attitudes as to their reporting duties. Using this evidence-base, the report makes recommendations as to how these policies and practices can be improved. The report features a survey of 470 teachers in government and non-government primary schools.

A commentary on national child maltreatment surveillance systems: examples of progress.
AlEissa M, Fluke J, Gerbaka B, Goldbeck L, Gray J, Hunter N, Madrid B, Van Puyenbroeck B, Richards I and Tonmyr L
Child Abuse and Neglect v. 33 no. 11 Nov 2009: 809-814

This commentary explores the range, status and goals of different types of data collection within child maltreatment surveillance systems. It provides examples from ten different countries - Australia, Belgium, Canada, England, Germany, Lebanon , New Zealand, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, and the United States - which variously include their data collection activities as part of the social service, justice, or health sectors.

Developments in Australian laws requiring the reporting of suspected child sexual abuse.
Mathews B, Goddard C, Lonne B, Short S and Briggs F
Children Australia v. 34 no. 3 2009: 18-23

Thousands of Australian children are sexually abused every year and the effects can be severe and long lasting. Not only is child sexual abuse a public health problem, but the acts inflicted are criminal offences. Child sexual abuse usually occurs in private, typically involving relationships featuring a massive imbalance in power and an abuse of that power. Those who inflict child sexual abuse seek to keep it secret, whether by threats or more subtle persuasion. As a method of responding to this phenomenon and in an effort to uncover cases of sexual abuse that otherwise would not come to light, governments in Australian states and Territories have enacted legislation requiring designated persons to report suspected child sexual abuse. With Western Australia's new legislation having commenced on 1 January 2009, every Australian State and Territory government has now passed these laws, so that there is now, for the first time, an almost harmonious legislative approach across Australia to the reporting of child sexual abuse. Yet there remain differences in the State and Territory laws regarding who has to make reports, which cases of sexual abuse are required to be reported and whether suspected future abuse must be reported. These differences indicate that further refinement of the laws is required.

Child protection and the health professional : mandatory responding is our duty.
Winterton P
Medical Journal of Australia v. 191 no. 5 7 Sep 2009: 246-247

Each state in Australia has mandatory reporting of child abuse. The aim of this is to achieve better outcomes for children and families, but current research indicates that child protection agencies are not protecting the child, that they cannot cope with all the referrals they get. This article discusses the idea that it is the reponsibility of all health professionals to act on suspicions of child abuse. It lists forms that response can take and concludes that mandatory responding rather than reporting is a better tool to improve outcomes for children.

Contact with the South Australian child protection system : a statistical analysis of longitudinal child protection data (PDF1.5MB)
Hirte C, Rogers N and Wilson R
Adelaide, S. Aust. : Dept. for Families and Communities, 2008.

Drawing on data from the Families SA Client Information System, this study undertook a longitudinal statistical analysis in order to explore the extent to which a cohort of children (born in 1991) have come into contact with the South Australian child protection system, the nature of the contact, outcomes and patterns. It includes some comparative analysis of cohorts born in 1998 and 2002. The results show that 22.5 per cent of the 1991 South Australian birth cohort had been the subject of at least one child protection notification. About three quarters of the children who were subject to a notification have not had any other contact with the Families SA system. Only a relatively small number have had multiple contacts. Age at first notification was found to be a predictor of: multiple notifications (the younger the age at first notification, the more likely it was that multiple notifications would be received); substantiated abuse; and being placed in alternative care. A comparison of the 1991, 1998 and 2002 cohorts of children found that children are increasingly likely to be notified for alleged child abuse or neglect and have contact with the child protection system. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were more likely to be the subject of a child protection notification, investigation and substantiation, and to be placed in care. Compared with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males and with non-Indigenous males and females, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls were the subject of higher numbers of notifications and substantiation.

Protecting children from abuse and neglect.
Mathews B
Monahan, Geoff, ed. Young, Lisa, ed. Children and the law in Australia. Chatswood, N.S.W. : LexisNexis Butterworths, 2008. 9780409323900: 204-237

This chapter introduces key legal issues in child protection and child abuse prevention in Australia. It outlines the legislative and social context, and describes issues regarding evidence of child abuse, employment screening, parenting orders, court evaluation of allegations of sexual abuse, mandatory reporting, statutory child protection, out of home care, and child sexual abuse in Indigenous communities and the Northern Territory Emergency Response.

Mandatory reporting legislation in the United States, Canada, and Australia : a cross-jurisdictional review of key features, differences, and issues.
Mathews B and Kenny M
Child Maltreatment v. 13 no. 1 Feb 2008: 50-63

The United States, Canada and Australia have developed mandatory child abuse reporting laws in particular detail as a central part of government strategy to detect cases of abuse and neglect at an early stage, protect children, and facilitate the provision of services to children and families. This article provides a review of mandatory reporting legislation in these three countries. The article conducts a comparison of the key elements of these laws, disclosing significant differences and highlighting the issues that face legislatures and policy-making bodies.

Mandated reporting is still a policy with reason : empirical evidence and philosophical grounds.
Mathews B and Bross D
Child Abuse and Neglect v. 32 no. 5 May 2008: 511-516

Criticism of mandatory reporting of child abuse and neglect focuses on the high number of unsubstantiated reports that result in increased workloads for child protection services, waste of resources and a reduction in the quality of care given to children and families in genuine need. This article argues that without a system of mandated reporting, many cases of abuse and neglect will not come to the attention of authorities and support agencies and therefore children will be less protected. Mandatory reporting schemes are not perfect, but a child protection system needs a form of case identification beyond voluntary help-seeking. Evidence from several nations shows that mandatory reporting produces a large number of substantiated reports, and without it child protection would be compromised. The most serious problems in systems with mandated reporting appear to lie with the responses rather than the reports. Mandatory reporting offers economic and social justice advantages that far outweigh any disadvantages.

Child protection Australia 2006-07.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Children, Youth and Families Unit.
Child Abuse Prevention Newsletter (Print) v. 16 no. 1 2008: 3-4

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare publishes 'Child protection Australia' annually. This article summarises key findings from the report for 2006-07. It first outlines the processes that are set in train when there is a report of suspected child abuse or neglect, and then provides a statistical overview of: notifications, investigations and substantiations; children on care and protection orders; and children in out-of-home care. The number of children in Australia who require a care and protection order or out-of-home care is rising, partly due to an increase in the number of children in need of protection, but also due to increased public awareness and changes in child protection policies. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are over-represented in the statistics.

Problems in the system of mandatory reporting of children living with domestic violence.
Humphreys C
Journal of Family Studies v. 14 no. 2-3 Oct 2008 Special issue: Innovative approaches to family violence: 228-239

Historically, the chasm between services for women and for children has been problematised in the domestic and family violence arena. This paper argues that it is now equally, or more problematic, that the recognition of harm to children in the context of domestic and family violence has 'grafted' statutory child protection response to intervention in this area. When judged against the criteria for an effective, efficient, efficacious or ethical financial system, the child protection system fails in relation to children living with domestic violence. The paper raises three issues of particular concern: (1) responding to a widespread social problem through an individualised response at the tertiary end of provision; (2) undermining the voluntary and empowerment model of intervention for women through compulsory, statutory intervention with children; and (3) creating a mandatory pathway to an intervention system that is not set up to work with an adult and child victim or to intervene effectively with violent men.

Opening address.
Macklin J
Proceedings from the ACWA Conference 2008. Haymarket, N.S.W.: Association of Childrens Welfare Agencies, 2008: 6 p

After considering the increasing number of cases of child abuse and neglect being reported, and acknowledging that there is no simple solution, this document provides an overview of the Federal Government's new National Child Protection Framework, which aims to combat child abuse and neglect and prevent it before it occurs. The Framework is underpinned by a child-centred approach, and is based on evidence from hundreds of submissions and consultations, as well as lessons learned from the Northern Territory intervention. It focuses on stronger prevention and early intervention to reduce pressure on the child protection system and provide greater support for neglected or abused children. The Framework identifies barriers to information sharing, and makes better use of existing resources to effectively share relevant information, as well as clarifying national reporting and accountability mechanisms for the out-of-home care system.

Case, teacher and school characteristics influencing teachers' detection and reporting of child physical abuse and neglect : results from an Australian study.
Walsh K, Bridgstock R, Farrell A, Rassafiani M and Schweitzer R
Child Abuse and Neglect v. 32 no. 10 Oct 2008: 983-993

In order to identify the influences on teachers' propensity to detect and report child abuse and neglect (CAN), a sample of 254 Queensland primary school teachers completed a self-reporting questionnaire about their responses to a series of hypothetical physical abuse and neglect scenarios. Teacher and school characteristics were also recorded. The results showed that detecting and reporting CAN is a complex decision-making process. Case characteristics were shown to be the most important determinants of teacher decision-making, and in particular, the type, frequency and severity were the most important predictors of detection and reporting. Case characteristics have an impact on both detection and reporting.

Child protection Australia 2005-06.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
Canberra, ACT : Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2007.

This report is based on information from three national child protection data collections - child protection notifications, investigations and substantiations; children on care and protection orders; and children in out-of-home care. The data are collected each year by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare from the relevant departments in each state and territory. Most of the data in this report cover the 2004- 2005 financial year, although data on trends in child protection are also included. Each state and territory has its own legislation, policies and practices in relation to child protection, which accounts for some of the differences between jurisdictions in the data provided. Australian totals have not been provided for those data that are not comparable across the states and territories.

See more resources on Mandatory reporting in the AIFS library catalogue

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