August 2018, amendments to the Crimes Act 1900 commenced to
introduce new offences of concealing a child abuse offence (section
316A) and failing to remove the risk that a worker will commit a child abuse
offence (section 43B). The new offences are part of a suite of reforms to
strengthen child sexual abuse laws in NSW, based on the Royal Commission’s Criminal
New offence of concealing a child abuse offence (failure to report)
All adults in
NSW are required to report information to Police if they:
- know, believe or reasonably ought to know that a
child (under 18 years) has been abused, or
- know, believe, or reasonably ought to know that
they have information that might materially assist in securing the
apprehension, prosecution or conviction of the offender.
covers sexual abuse, serious physical abuse and extreme neglect of a child
(under 18 years). It has a maximum penalty of imprisonment for two years.
A person will
not be guilty of the offence, however, if they have a reasonable excuse for not
reporting the information to Police.
This is similar to the existing requirement to inform Police of a
serious indictable offence (section 316 of the Crimes Act 1900). Reasonable excuses for not reporting information
to Police include knowing or reasonably believing that:
- the information has already been reported under
mandatory reporting obligations, such as to the Child Protection Helpline, NSW
Health Child Wellbeing Unit or to the Ombudsman under the Reportable Conduct
Scheme, or the person believes on reasonable grounds that another person has
- the information is already known to Police
- the alleged victim is an adult at the time of
providing the information and doesn’t want it
reported to the Police, or
- there are grounds to fear for their safety or
another person’s safety if they report to Police.
In addition, the person has a reasonable excuse for
failing to notify the Police if they were under 18 years of age when they
obtained the information.
New offence of failing to remove the risk that a
worker will commit a child abuse offence
working in an organisation that engages workers in child-related work commits
an offence if:
- they know that an adult worker engaged by the
organisation in child related work poses a serious risk of abusing a child
(under 18 years), and
- they have the power or responsibility to reduce
or remove the risk, and
- they negligently fail to reduce or remove that
covers failures to protect against sexual or serious physical abuse and is
punishable by up to two years imprisonment.
What do these changes mean for NSW Health workers?
are expected to have minimal impact on current obligations for NSW Health
As a NSW
Health worker you are already required to report child abuse to relevant
authorities – this is set out in Child Wellbeing and Child Protection
Policies and Procedures for NSW Health.
When deciding whether to report to the
Helpline or NSW Police, you are encouraged to discuss any questions
or concerns with your supervisor and/or the NSW Health Child Wellbeing Unit as
the mandatory Child Wellbeing and Child Protection HETI online training will give
you the best preparation for responding to vulnerable children, young people
and their families and understanding your reporting requirements.
What if the alleged child abuse involves a NSW
Under the NSW
Health Code of Conduct, you are required to report to the designated person
within your organisation if you become aware of an allegation, charge or
conviction involving an under 18 year old against another NSW Health
allegations of abuse of children under 18 years involving a NSW Health worker
is then required to be managed under Child Related Allegations, Charges and
Convictions Against Employees. This Policy Directive sets out the
mandatory requirements for notifying the Police and for identifying and