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Responding and reporting

Standard 5: Processes for responding to and reporting suspected child abuse

If you see something – do something.

Organisations have a responsibility to encourage staff, volunteers and children to speak up when they are uncomfortable or concerned.

This means:

  • recognising that the safety of children is everyone’s responsibility
  • having a clear and understood procedure for reporting concerns and allegations
  • encouraging children to report if they feel unsafe or concerned
  • making people within the organisation aware of their duty of care and legal responsibilities, and knowing what to do to respond appropriately
  • appropriately acting upon concerns and complaints
  • keeping and securely storing accurate records.

All staff and volunteers must understand their role in keeping children safe, including their reporting responsibilities. It is important that your organisation’s reporting process specifies the requirement for all child safety concerns to be reported and that it outlines the necessary steps involved in doing so.


Children who disclose that they are feeling unsafe or being abused must be heard, must be taken seriously and must be treated with sensitivity and compassion. They and their families and carers should be connected with services that can provide them with support to manage a difficult or traumatic experience. Your response should be the same no matter how you feel about the child’s disclosure or the person or persons implicated in their disclosure.


Simple, transparent, well-communicated processes for reporting a concern about the behaviour of a staff member or volunteer will significantly increase the likelihood that people within your organisational community will not turn a blind eye if they see something or feel something that they find concerning, or if they believe that a child is being harmed. Your reporting process must also be known by children and provided in a developmentally appropriate form.

A clear reporting process includes:

  • the types of behaviour or concerns that need to be reported
  • who within your organisation should be notified if a child safety concern arises
  • what your organisation’s internal investigation process will involve, and how you will ensure that records are kept
  • the requirement that suspected criminal child abuse must be reported to the police or child protection as soon as is practicable
  • the requirement to call triple zero (000) if a child is in immediate danger.

To assist your organisation, download the Flowchart: Child Safety Reporting Process (Word, 91kb).

Call the police on triple zero (000) if you have immediate concerns for a child’s safety or if you reasonably believe child abuse may have occurred. Investigation of any matter by police must always take priority over internal investigations.

Next read about Standard 6: Strategies to identify and reduce or remove risks of child abuse.

More information