What ifs

1. What if the child protection concerns are about a child in another jurisdiction?

Alerts - address unknown

When child protection concerns have been received and the child’s address is not known, or when Child Safety has been involved with a family and they move to an unknown address interstate or in New Zealand, every effort is to be made to locate the child and family by undertaking agreed procedures under the Information Sharing Protocol between the Commonwealth and Child Protection Agencies. (for example, initiating a Centrelink search through DMS). For further information, refer to 3.6 Record an intake when there is no identifying information and Chapter 2, 12. What if a child and family cannot be located?

If an address remains unknown, but the child and family is believed to be residing in another state, territory or New Zealand (jurisdiction), and the information needs to be forwarded to the other jurisdiction for an appropriate response:

The alert will be sent electronically to the other jurisdiction either by the ILO, or by the CSAHSC staff if the alert is received after hours.

Please note that an alert can be raised in more than one jurisdiction.

The notifier should be encouraged, to also contact the appropriate interstate jurisdiction directly:

ACT 1300 556 729
NSW 132111
NZ 00116499123820
NT 1800 700 250
SA 131478
TAS 1300 737 639
VIC 131278
WA 08 9223 1111

Notification of child protection concerns - address known

When child protection concerns are received for a child who is not living in Queensland, or Child Safety has been involved with a family and they have moved interstate, and the family's address in another jurisdiction is known, the information needs to be forwarded to the other jurisdiction for an appropriate response:

The notifier should be encouraged, to also contact the appropriate interstate jurisdiction directly.

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2. What if child protection concerns are received from another jurisdiction?

Alerts

Another state, territory or New Zealand (jurisdiction) may contact Child Safety to request that an alert be raised in Queensland, where the child's whereabouts are not known but the child and/or family is believed to be in Queensland. These requests are sent electronically by the other jurisdiction via DchS.interstatealertcsyw.qld.gov.au and processed by either the ILO or by CSAHSC staff.

The CSAHSC manager and senior team leaders are responsible for ensuring that the alerts are responded to in accordance with relevant policy and procedures and, where applicable, recorded in ICMS. The ILO does not record this information in ICMS.

For further information, refer to 9. What if an alert needs to be recorded in ICMS?

Notifications

Another jurisdiction may receive a notification that relates to a child living at a known address in Queensland. The specific information regarding the notification will be forwarded to the ILO who will then forward to the relevant RIS for their consideration and response in accordance with normal (Queensland) intake procedures. CSOs should consider seeking interstate child protection history by emailing the  Request for interstate/overseas child protection history to DMS via #SDIS_DMS_Checks (not to the Queensland ILO).

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The Youth Protocol: An agreement concerning referral, assessment, case management and support for homeless and unsupported young people (Youth Protocol) outlines the operational guidelines and requirements for the staff of Centrelink and Child Safety, when a Centrelink employee is the notifier.

Under this agreement, a Centrelink worker who has concerns about a child is required to:

  • contact Child Safety by telephone
  • follow up with a written referral within 48 hours, using the 'Referral to State/Territory Welfare Authority' form
  • assist the child to attend the local CSSC, if necessary.

Under this agreement, Child Safety is required to:

  • advise the Centrelink worker of any action the department intends to take and the rationale for the decision, within 48 hours of the child being referred to Child Safety
  • where a notification is recorded, within 48 hours of the investigation and assessment outcome decision:
    • advise Centrelink by telephone of the investigation and assessment outcome and any proposed actions
    • complete and send the 'Advice to Centrelink' form attached to the written referral to the relevant Centrelink office.

If the decision is made that a notification will not be recorded, the CSO and Centrelink worker should jointly consider whether other support can be provided to the child, for example, the child may be eligible for special benefit payments.

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4. What if there is an enquiry about becoming an approved carer?

All enquiries about becoming a foster carer should be referred to the statewide foster carer enquiry line with Foster Care Queensland on 1300 550 877. Enquiries about becoming a Kinship Carer should be directed to the relevant CSSC.

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5. What if the notifier is vexatious or malicious?

A vexatious notifier is a person who contacts Child Safety repeatedly with concerns about a child that are without grounds. A malicious notifier is a person whose primary motive for contacting Child Safety is ill will towards another person.

In both circumstances, concern about the best interests of the child is not the reason for the notifier's actions. It includes situations where a number of previous investigation and assessments have been unsubstantiated and the same notifier continues to contact Child Safety with similar concerns, which appear to meet the threshold for a notification.

If there are concerns that a notifier is acting in a vexatious or malicious manner or has previously provided false information which was recorded as a notification, refer the concerns to the senior team leader for further action. 

For further information refer to the practice resource Vexatious or malicious notifiers (PDF, 81 KB).

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6. What if a child needs to be moved to a safe place - section 21?

The Child Protection Act 1999, section 21, provides the authority for an authorised officer or police officer to move a child (under the age of 12) from a place, to be cared for until a parent or family member resumes care of the child. When there are no child protection concerns involved, the child is moved, the use of this power is recorded in a 'safe place movement record' in ICMS, and no further action is required.

A child must not be moved to a watch-house.

When exercising this authority, the officer must move the child, or make arrangements for another reliable person to move the child to a safe place, where they can remain until they return to the care of the parents or a family member. The officer may obtain help that is reasonable in the circumstances to move a child to a safe place. A safe place can be:

  • the home of a neighbour who knows the child and parents
  • the home of a relative or friend
  • the child's family day care provider
  • a hospital
  • an approved foster placement
  • a CSSC
  • a police station.

As soon as practicable after a child has been moved to a safe place, the authorised officer must:

  • take steps to advise at least one of the child's parents or a family member of the child's whereabouts
  • provide their name, position, department and show their identity card as required by the Child Protection Act 1999, section 153
  • explain their authority to move the child to a safe place under the Child Protection Act 1999, section 21, and why the authority was used
  • record the use of power, including situations where the power has been exercised jointly with the QPS, in a 'safe place movement record' in ICMS.

Any child protection concerns identified while moving the child will be recorded as per intake procedures. If a parent is unable to be located within a reasonable timeframe, consult the senior team leader as further action may be required.

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7. What if the child is an unaccompanied humanitarian minor?

When information received from a notifier or ICMS records indicate that the child may be an unaccompanied humanitarian minor (UHM), contact the UHM program officer, Adoption Services before completing the screening criteria.

An UHM is a child under the age of 18 years who is not an Australian citizen, who enters Australia without a parent and has been granted a visa under Australia's humanitarian program. An UHM will either reside with a custodian or a close relative. Some of these children will be in the guardianship of the chief executive and are identified as UHM wards.

The following information may indicate that a child is an UHM:

  • the child is a refugee, was born in another country and entered Australia on humanitarian grounds
  • both parents are not residing in Australia and the child is in the care of a custodian or relative
  • there is an ICMS alert recorded to specifically identify that the child is an UHM ward
  • the child or family has contact with Mercy Family Services' UHM program.

For further information refer to the Practice guide: Unaccompanied humanitarian minor wards.

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8. What if child protection concerns are received from the Family Court of Australia or the Federal Circuit Court of Australia?

Notifications under section 67Z and 67ZA of the Family Law Act 1975

The Family Law Act 1975 requires Child Safety to be notified about allegations of child abuse, family violence or risk of family violence. Child Safety will receive these concerns via Court Services through their generic email group familylaw@cswy.qld.gov.au. They are:

  • a Form 4 -Notice of Child Abuse, Family Violence or Risk of Family Violence (Form 4), completed and filed by a party to the proceedings (Family Law Act 1975, section 67Z)
  • a Notice of Risk completed and filed by a part to the proceedings in the in the Family Court of Australia (Family Law Act 1975, section 67Z)
  • a Notification under section 67ZA Family Law Act 1975 by a specified staff member of the family courts (Family Law Act 1975, section 67ZA).

The exception to this is when a Notice of Risk completed and filed by a part to the proceedings in the Federal Circuit Court of Australia (Family Law Act 1975, section 67Z ). A notice to risk form is provided to Child Safety through Data Management Services (DMS) via DMS_FORM4@communitiescsyw.qld.gov.au. DMS will then disseminate to the appropriate RIS.

In response to the Form 4 or Notice of Risk the RIS will:

  • assess the information in accordance with intake procedures to determine the Child Safety response, regardless of whether the same concerns have been received previously - refer to 2. Assess the information and decide the response. Where a Form 4 or Notice of Risk includes limited details of the allegations, contact may be made with the legal representative who filed the notice to request a copy of the material referred to in the Form 4 or Notice of Risk. The legal representative who filed the notice can be located at Part I of the Form 4, and on the first page of the Notice of Risk
  • obtain as much background information as possible, including the status of family court proceedings, any orders which may have been made and the indigenous status of the child and family 
  • complete the 'Record of concerns' in an intake event in ICMS and record the notifier as a mandatory notifier (the notifier is the informant not the court)
  • inform the family court of Child Safety's response, by completing and forwarding the Response letter to court
  • when determining the response to the notified concerns, take into account that regardless of which parent has reported the concerns or appears to be acting protectively, that parent may not be in a position (willing but not able) to protect the child given there may be family court orders in existence. A court order may determine who the child lives with and communicates with, with the court obliged to consider how child protection and family violence issues are to be addressed when making parenting orders.

The court will not assess the notified concerns, and in the absence of any assessment by Child Safety, the court will be bound by the principles of its legislation, that is, that shared family care is in the best interests of every child.

Notification made by a staff member of the family courts

A specified staff member of the family courts may also notify Child Safety of abuse. A ‘staff member’ may include the Independent Children’s Lawyer (ICL), family consultant, family counsellor, family dispute resolution practitioner or judicial officers. Any notification made to Child Safety should be confirmed in writing by the staff member as soon as practicable where the information was provided verbally in the first instance.

The RIS will respond to this information in accordance with standard intake procedures and there is no requirement to complete any written response to the court, as this is only a requirement for Form 4 notices.

For further information, refer to Chapter 10.21 Family Courts and the Protocol between the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Magistrates Court of Australia and the Department of Child Safety Queensland.

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9. What if an alert needs to be recorded in ICMS?

An alert is recorded in ICMS, as soon as significant information relevant to an alert type has been identified about a child or family, including a carer family, at any time during intake, an investigation and assessment or ongoing intervention by Child Safety.

Types of alerts

The following alerts can be recorded:

  • Carer application refused
  • Carer certificate of authority cancelled/suspended
  • CCYPCG – Blue card declined (the decision to refuse a person’s Blue Card application is currently provided by Blue Card Services)
  • Child death - result of harm
  • Child protection warrant
  • Child seriously injured - result of harm
  • Conflict based placement concern
  • Deceased - other (for example as a result of accidental death, disability or illness)
  • Experienced detriment by department – policy 634
  • Harm report
  • History of parents taking children without authority
  • Member of a family - child death - result of harm (for example, member of a family where a child has died as a result of abuse)
  • Member of a family - child seriously injured - result of harm
  • Member of a mobile family
  • Missing child
  • Risk to staff
  • Self harm risk
  • Serious health condition
  • Significant DFV threat
  • Suicide risk
  • Unaccompanied humanitarian minor
  • Unborn children.

When information is received that relates to a significant event for a child or their family, or a carer family, and may require the recording of one or more of the above alerts:

  • consult the team leader to:
    • assess the nature and significance of the information
    • determine the most appropriate way to record the information
  • where appropriate, and in accordance with intake procedures, undertake checks with other government or non-government agencies to clarify or verify the information - this may include contact with the QPS, Queensland Health and education authorities
  • record and maintain the information on the alert tab of the relevant person record/s in ICMS - this may include recording or closing an alert if circumstances change in the family, for example, if a family is located.

A suicide risk alert can only be generated within a suicide risk event. For further information about recording a self-harm or suicide risk alert, refer to Chapter 10.8 Responding to self-harming behaviour and Chapter 10.9 Responding to suicide risk behaviour.

For further information about reporting a child as missing, refer to Chapter 5, 14. What if a child is missing?

For further information about when to record a 'Significant DFV threat' alert, refer to Chapter 2.2.2 Inform the parents about the allegation of significant harm.

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10. What if an intake relates to a child subject to a long-term guardianship order or permanent care order?

When the information received at intake relates to a child subject to a long-term guardianship order to a suitable person or a permanent care order, take the actions outlined below.

Long-term guardianship to a suitable person

When the information received at intake relates to a child subject to a long-term guardianship order to a suitable person, and a child concern report is recorded, advise the relevant CSSC. The CSO with case responsibility and relevant senior team leader will determine whether to contact the long-term guardian to discuss the concerns and to assess whether additional supports may be required. For further information, refer to Chapter 3, 1. What if a suitable person has long-term guardianship?

Requests for support

At any stage following the making of a long-term guardianship order to a suitable person, the guardian, or the child may contact Child Safety to request support. Where initial contact has been made with a RIS, provide the guardian or the child with the contact details of the CSO, and where applicable, transfer the call to the CSSC. Record a case note of the contact and email the details to the CSSC. The CSO with case responsibility is responsible for responding in a timely manner. For further information, refer to the Supporting children in the care of long-term guardians (PDF, File not found) policy and Chapter 3, 1. What if a suitable person has long-term guardianship?

Child subject to a permanent care order

When the information received at intake relates to a child subject to a permanent care order, determine the response in accordance with usual intake procedures and select one of the following three options:

  • record a notification where the information meets the threshold and allocate the investigation and assessment in accordance with usual processes
  • record a child concern report and advise the senior team leader of the CSSC where the placement event for the child is open, within 24 hours
  • record the information in a case note, attach it to the placement event in ICMS and advise the senior team leader of the CSSC where the placement event is open for the child, within 24 hours.

Child no longer in the care of a long-term guardian or permanent guardian

Long-term guardians and permanent guardians are required to advise Child Safety if the child is likely to leave their care or is no longer in their care. When information received at intake indicates that a child subject to a long-term guardianship order to a suitable person or a permanent care order no longer resides in the direct care of their guardian:

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11. What if duplicate child protection concerns are received that have previously been recorded?

When child protection concerns are received from a notifier, that duplicate those previously received about a specific incident or event that has already been recorded as a notification, they must still be documented. The term 'duplicate concerns' does not apply to similar concerns that relate to a further incident of the same nature.

When a notifier contacts Child Safety with duplicate child protection concerns that meet the threshold for a notification, the concerns must not be recorded as a case note or intake enquiry.

To record duplicate concerns:

  • complete the 'Record of concerns' or an 'Additional notified concerns' form, as relevant in ICMS - this ensures that the information is documented and the notifier's details are recorded in the correct format to protect their identity
  • create a heading titled 'Concerns previously recorded' in the above form, with the date and event number of the original notification, and record that the concerns have already been recorded, and where applicable, the outcome of the investigation and assessment
  • complete the screening criteria/response priority and record a child concern report response ('Information and advice')
  • email the ICMS event ID to the relevant CSSC, where applicable.

When the information received contains both duplicate concerns that have been previously recorded, as well as new child protection concerns, determine the appropriate response to the new concerns, either child concern report or a notification, depending on the level of harm and risk indicated. Record the duplicate concerns, as outlined above, so that the information can be cross-referenced.

For further information refer to Chapter 2, 6.What if the department is contacted about additional concerns for a child or an unborn child?

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12. What if a child concern report is to be re-assessed following a decision at an information coordination meeting?

When a child concern report is referred to an Information Coordination Meeting (ICM) for a multi-agency discussion and further information is provided at the meeting by a core member agency representative, the matter may be referred back to the RIS for re-assessment by the RIS senior team leader.

Where the ICM decision is to refer the matter back to the RIS for re-assessment, the RIS senior team leader will re-open the intake event and the record of concerns form in ICMS and allocate it to an intake worker, who will:

  • record the information provided at the ICM in the re-opened 'Record of concerns' form
  • record the previous approval date and officer, and the reason the form has been re-opened
  • complete a new ‘Screening criteria/Response priority’ form and ensure all information from the original form is included
  • attach the ICM record of decision to the intake event in ICMS
  • forward all completed documents to the RIS senior team leader for approval.

The senior team leader will delete the original 'Screening criteria/Response priority' and 'Child concern report', approve the new documents and if the information is subsequently re-assessed as a notification, reassign the investigation and assessment event to the pending allocation tray of the appropriate CSSC. In this circumstance, the notification cannot subsequently be downgraded at the CSSC.

For further information about ICM procedures, refer to the Information Coordination Meetings (ICM) and the Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect (SCAN) Team System Manual.

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13. What if there is disagreement with a RIS intake decision?

In circumstances where there is disagreement between a CSSC, the CSAHSC or the RIS about the intake response recorded, senior team leaders from the RIS and the CSAHSC or CSSC will discuss the matter and the rationale for the initial decision

If agreement cannot be reached between senior team leaders the matter will be managed in accordance with line management procedures.

Following discussion:

  • if the decision is made to downgrade the notification to a child concern report, refer to Chapter 10.6 Downgrading or deleting an approved notification
  • if a decision is made to change the child concern report to a notification, the CSSC team leader will record the necessary changes in ICMS, including the rationale for the decision.

It is the responsibility of the CSSC senior team leader to inform any professional notifiers of the change to the intake response.

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14. What if information is received about a child death?

CSAHSC is responsible for managing all initial information pertaining to reportable deaths.  A reportable death is recorded when information is received from the QPS.  If QPS contact a RIS with information about a reportable death, the RIS will transfer the call to CSAHSC.

The CSAHSC will:

  • gather information about the circumstances of the child death
  • provide QPS with any child protection history regarding the child and their family including interstate child protection history, if requested by QPS
  • assess whether there is a reasonable suspicion that any other children in the family are in need of protection
  • complete a Critical incident report form, in accordance with the requirements outlined in the Critical incident reporting policy. Refer to Chapter 10.19 The review of child deaths for further information.

CSAHSC will record the information in ICMS, notify the Systems and Practice Review Team and request a child protection history check from Data Management Services. CSAHSC will advise the relevant CSSC as required.

When information is received from a notifier other than QPS that a child has died, the RIS will record the information in ICMS. A deceased child will be recorded as an 'other child' not a subject child. The date of death for the deceased child will be recorded on the child's profile in ICMS. For further information about the actions required following the death of a child, refer to Chapter 10.19 The review of child deaths.

To determine the most appropriate intake response, gather information about:

  • the circumstances of the child death
  • whether there is a reasonable suspicion that any other child is in need of protection.

Where there are child protection concerns reported in relation to the deceased child's sibling, any other child or unborn child within the household, record the child as a subject child in either the child concern report or notification, depending on the assessed level of harm or risk of harm. In these circumstances, respond to the child protection concerns in accordance with the intake procedures as outlined in this chapter.

In circumstances where a child was known to Child Safety in the one year prior to their death, irrespective of whether or not the child is subject to a current open case, Child Safety must review its involvement with the child. For further information about the child death review process, refer to Chapter 10.19 The review of child deaths.

In circumstances where the deceased child was, immediately prior to notification of their death, subject to ongoing intervention, an open intake, child protection notification, or an investigation and assessment, Child Safety must also advise the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) of the child's death as soon as possible or within one business day. For information about the OPG regional inboxes, refer to the OPG - Regional Visiting Manager contact details.

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15. What if concerns are received about fabricated or induced illness?

Fabricated or induced illness, previously referred to as Munchausen's Syndrome by proxy, is a specific pattern of abuse where an individual fabricates or induces illness or injury in a person in their care.

In child protection matters, illness or injury may be fabricated or induced in a child by a parent or someone who is in a parental role. In such cases, a parent may:

  • fabricate signs and symptoms, including fabricating past medical history
  • fabricate and falsify signs and symptoms, through falsifying hospital charts and records or tampering with specimens of bodily fluids
  • induce illness or injury by various means, including administering medication or other substances not prescribed for the child, not administering prescribed medications or intentionally injuring or suffocating the child.

When a paediatrician from Queensland Health reports suspected harm or risk of harm resulting from fabricated or induced illness, gather information about:

  • the indicators that have triggered the current suspicions
  • pending and previous medical assessment or treatment
  • any immediate safety issues for the child
  • other agencies already involved with the matter, including the QPS

Inform the senior team leader of the details of the case and the suspicion that the harms may be the result of fabricated or induced illness. In addition, immediately provide the information to the QPS, using a Police referral form and include any relevant attachments (Child Protection Act 1999, section 14(2) and (3)). Where the notifier states that they are going to provide information to the QPS about the alleged concerns, Child Safety is still required to immediately provide the information to the QPS. For further information refer to Chapter 10.2 Statutory obligation to notify the Queensland Police Service of possible criminal offences and the practice resource Schedule of criminal offences (PDF, 84 KB).   

Record the information provided to the QPS in the related intake event in ICMS and complete the intake.

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16. What if concerns are received about pool fencing?

When Child Safety becomes aware of concerns associated with pool fencing at intake, these concerns are to be referred to the relevant local council that is responsible for assessing pool fencing compliance regardless of the response to this information (Intake enquiry, child concern report, notification or case note).

Staff can only provide the property address and the nature of the issue relating to the pool fence to the relevant local council. Staff must not provide identifying family details.

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17. What if a request for information is received from a Queensland court under the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012?

In specific circumstances, a Queensland court is able to request information from Child Safety about a child, aggrieved person or respondent, to assist in deciding certain matters being contested by a respondent (Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012, section 55). Child Safety must comply with the request in a timely manner.

When a request is made pursuant to section 55(2) of the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012, complete the Information about a child for domestic violence proceedings report, to provide information about a child, an aggrieved or a respondent, to help the court decide whether to name the child in the protection order being sought or to impose a condition relating to the child/children.

In the report include a summary of the child protection history (including a copy of the most recent order and any reports relevant to Domestic Violence), current assessment and outcomes of any SDM risk assessments, and a current case plan if applicable.

Send a copy of the report to the Registry Manager at the registry of the relevant court named in the request.

For further information to assist the departmental response, refer to the practice resources Guidelines for departmental staff when providing information to the court regarding a domestic violence order application and Section 55 requests - Domestic and Family Violene Act 2012.

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18. What if concerns are received about a reportable offender?

As defined under section 5 of the Child Protection (Offender Reporting) Act 2004(CPORA), a reportable offender is a person who has a conviction recorded against them for a reportable offence and is sentenced to either a detention order or a supervised order. The CPORA requires particular offenders, who have been convicted of committing sexual or other serious offences against children, to keep police informed of their whereabouts and other personal details for a period of time. This is to reduce the likelihood that they will re-offend, to assist the investigation and prosecution of any future offences that they may commit, and for other related purposes.

Reportable offenders must notify QPS where they have unsupervised access to a child for three days or more within a twelve month period or if they reside in a household for three days or more where a child resides. QPS are required to report the information to RIS where they determine the reportable offender may pose a risk to a child whom they reside with or have unsupervised contact with.

If information is received indicating that a reportable offender may be posing a risk of harm to a child, the RIS will conduct checks with the Officer in Charge of the local CPIU to request the nature and recency of the convictions and risk to the subject child.

CSOs do not have the authority to disclose information that a person is a ‘reportable offender’ to another person. However, details of criminal offences, charges or convictions of a person may be released if in the best interests of a child.

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19. What if the concerns relate to sexting?

Sexting relates to the act of taking sexually explicit images or videos and distributing this material to friends or to other people via mobile telephones and other communication technologies. This activity is common amongst children.

The distribution and possession of self-produced indecent images by children can have both social and criminal implications for the child. Significant reputational harm can be caused to the children involved due to the ease of circulating images on the internet and social media. Children may also be committing serious criminal offences by taking, possessing or sending child exploitation material.

A criminal investigation should be undertaken by police when a child has menaced, harassed, exercised force, coerced someone younger or otherwise acted without the consent of the other person in relation to sexting. This includes the deliberate on-sharing of indecent images or video to others without consent.

 If information is received that suggests that a child or younger person has been menaced, harassed, exercised force, coerced someone younger or otherwise acted without the consent of the other person, a police referral is required to be completed and sent to the Queensland Police Service, as per reporting obligations under section 14(2).

If information is received that suggests a child has self-produced indecent images of themselves and distributed these to others, whilst still a possible criminal offence, this does not require a police referral to be sent.

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