Immediate Safety Concerns
Some people are nervous about contacting the authorities. It’s not up to you to figure out what happened; that’s for Child Protection and the police. What you need to do is say something so the young person can be protected and the abuse can be stopped. Put simply, no one should hurt, control or make another family member feel unsafe.
If the child is in immediate danger call Victoria Police on 000 (triple zero)
If you think the child might be experiencing sexual abuse, you must report it to Victoria Police Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team.
Everyone must now report suspected child sexual abuse by law
Legal obligations differ depending on your role in the child’s life but all adults in Victoria MUST report child sexual abuse to Victoria Police Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team. Failure to act is an offence.
What will police do?
Police will want to talk to the people who witnessed the violence and might ask them to make a statement. It’s a good idea to tell the child’s mother/caregiver that you’d like to report the violence to police because they will talk to the person who was violent and this could endanger her if she is unaware of the report.
Some forms of abuse are criminal; see the current legal definitions of family violence, child abuse or child sexual abuse in Victoria. If you are in another state, check the definitions provided by the Family Court of Australia. Police could arrest the violent person if they committed an offence.
Police could call Child Protection if they’re worried about the child’s safety. This FAQ gives an overview of how police could respond to your call depending on the circumstances and this flowchart can help you navigate the many possibilities.
WHAT WILL CHILD PROTECTION DO?
People often worry that calling Child Protection is ‘interfering’ or will mean the child will be taken away or put in foster care. Child Protection exists to make sure children are safe and you should notify them if you are worried about a child’s safety. But it’s a really good idea to tell the mother of the child before you call Child Protection as the violent person can become more violent when they feel exposed. If Child Protection think the child isn’t safe they will find ways the family can stay together in a safe way.
This could mean organising counselling for dad, helping mum to get an intervention order, getting the police involved or even organising for another place to stay. This FAQ gives an overview of how Child Protection could respond to your call depending on the circumstances and this flowchart can help you navigate the many possibilities.