Changes to child protection legislation and fulfilling mandatory reporting obligations

Since our last ANSC eNewsletter, changes have been made to child protection legislation that have expanded the range of professionals who can exchange information about the safety, welfare and wellbeing of children and young people under Chapter 16A of the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998. Changes have also been made to the alternative reporting arrangements for private doctors and general practice nurses.

Click here to view the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Amendment (Private Health Professionals) Regulation 2016.

The need for the changes has been highlighted by the NSW Ombudsman and in evidence given to the Royal Commission into the Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in May 2015 (Case Study 27).

The changes mean that private health practitioners, doctors, nurses, midwives, psychologists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists – are now able to exchange information under Chapter 16A. Before the changes only persons working in a public sector organisation could exchange information under Chapter 16A.

Changes have also been made to the alternative reporting arrangements for mandatory reporters, so that doctors and general practice nurses who are mandatory reporters can now make reports to the Child Wellbeing Unit of NSW Health rather than the Secretary, through the Child Protection Helpline.

This will assist practitioners across the state caring for vulnerable families to fulfil their mandatory reporting obligations and follows on from a trial involving general practitioners in limited regions of NSW which resulted in positive outcomes for children and families.

GPs and practice nurses can also access the Child Wellbeing unit where advice or consultation is sought, such as in relation to guidance about information exchange, identifying risks or responding to wellbeing concerns. In the situation where a service response is sought, the Family Referral Service can be contacted.

Further information