Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women

Reporting and referring concerns

If you have concerns for a child or family, you can make a referral to Family and Child Connect, or report your concerns to Child Safety, depending on the seriousness of your concerns.

You should report your concerns to Child Safety if you have information to suggest that a child may be in need of protection.

If you have concerns about a child or family that do not require a report to Child Safety, there are other referral options available to enable support to be offered to the family to prevent their problems from escalating.  

Families who are at risk of entering or re-entering the child protection system can be referred to Family and Child Connect or an intensive family support service. You can make a referral by completing an online referral form.

The Child Protection Guide is a decision support tool to assist professionals to determine which pathway to take to refer or report their concerns about a child’s safety or wellbeing.

When should a report be made to Child Safety?

You should report your concerns to Child Safety if you reasonably suspect that a child may be in need of protection, or that an unborn child may be in need of protection after they are born.

A child who may be in need of protection has suffered, is suffering, or is at an unacceptable risk of suffering significant harm and may not have a parent able and willing to protect them from harm.

The Child Protection Act 1999 defines harm to a child as any detrimental effect of a significant nature on the child’s physical, psychological or emotional wellbeing. It is immaterial how the harm is caused. Harm can be caused by physical, psychological or emotional abuse or neglect, or sexual abuse or exploitation. Harm can be caused by a single act, omission or circumstance, or a series of acts, omissions or circumstances.

The meaning of ‘may not be able and willing’ is important. A parent may be willing to protect their child, but not have capacity to do so (that is, they are ‘not able’). Alternatively, a parent may have the capacity and be able to protect their child, but may choose not to do so (that is, they are ‘not willing’). In many serious cases, the severity of the harm or risk of harm itself could be an indication that there may not be a parent able and willing to protect the child.

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