NSW Health is committed to promoting the health, safety and wellbeing of children and young people.
Children and young people form one of the most vulnerable groups in our society. It is essential that NSW Health workers identify, consult and respond to instances where a child or young person is at risk of significant harm (ROSH). Common reasons for children and young people to be at risk of significant harm include:
- domestic and family violence
- physical, sexual and/or emotional abuse
What is the effect of violence, abuse and neglect?
The impact of violence, abuse and neglect can span across all domains of a child’s development. Children who experience violence, abuse and neglect are more likely to have problems with:
- learning and development
- physical and mental health
NSW Health works with government agencies and non-government organisations (NGOs) to prevent and mitigate the effects of violence, abuse and neglect on children and young people. NSW Health does this by implementing child protection programs, contributing to child protection policies, and working with children and young people that are at risk of significant harm.
What is the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998?
The Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 establishes the legal responsibility of NSW Health workers to:
- collaborate with interagency and NGOs to promote the safety, welfare and wellbeing of children and young people
- report children and young people that are suspected to be at risk of significant harm
While prenatal reports are not mandatory, the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 allows for reporting of child protection concerns before birth. This is to facilitate assistance and support to expectant parents and reduce the likelihood that the child, when born, will need to be placed in out of home care.
In addition to the legal responsibilities under the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998, the Crimes Act 1900 was amended in 2018 to introduce new offences of concealing a child abuse offence (section 316A, also known as 'failure to report' offence) and failing to remove the risk that a worker will commit a child abuse offence (section 43B). These changes are expected to have minimal impact on current reporting obligations for NSW Health workers. For further information about these offences and the obligations of NSW Health workers, please refer to New child abuse related offences - failure to report and failure to protect.
What resources are available to help identify, consult and respond to children and young people at risk of significant harm?
- NSW Health Policies and Procedures for Child Wellbeing and Child Protection (PD2013_007) outlines key resources available and steps to take to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children and young people.
- The online Mandatory Reporter Guide can help to determine the level of risk there is to a child, young person or unborn child and what initial action to take.
- Contact the NSW Health Child Wellbeing Unit on 1300 480 420 for assistance in determining the level of risk of harm, planning next steps and responding to the needs of vulnerable children, young people, pregnant women and families.
- Contact the Community Services Child Protection Helpline to report a child or young person suspected to be at risk of significant harm on 132 111 (24 hours/7 days) or, where risks are not imminent, you can eReport via the online Mandatory Reporter Guide.