Reporting requirements about children
On this page you will find guidance on:
- Approved provider reporting requirements about children under National Law and Regulations
- Reporting requirements for serious incidents and handling complaints
- Reporting requirements relating to physical and / or sexual abuse allegations or incidents
- Identifying or responding to sexualised behaviour
- Reporting requirements under other laws e.g. child protection
- Child protection awareness and training obligations
Under the National Law and Regulations, the approved provider must notify the regulatory authority of any:
- serious incidents
- circumstances at the service which pose a risk to the health, safety or wellbeing of children
- any incident or allegation that physical or sexual abuse of a child or children has occurred or is occurring while the child or children are being educated and cared for by the service.
Related requirements to have and to follow policies and procedures, and keep related records continue.
There are also other reporting requirements under different state and territory laws, e.g. child protection laws.
You must notify the regulatory authority within 24 hours of becoming aware of a serious incident (Section 174(2)(a) and Regulation 176(2)(a).
A serious incident (regulation 12) is defined as any of the following:
- the death of a child while being educated and cared for by the service or following an incident while being educated and cared for by the service
- any incident involving a serious injury or trauma to a child while that child is being educated and cared for, which:
- a reasonable person would consider required urgent medical attention from a registered medical practitioner; or
- the child attended or ought reasonably to have attended a hospital e.g. broken limb*
- any incident involving serious illness of a child while that child is being educated and cared for by a service for which the child attended, or ought reasonably to have attended, a hospital e.g. severe asthma attack, seizure or anaphylaxis*
NOTE: In some cases (for example rural and remote locations) a General Practitioner conducts consultations from the hospital site. Only treatment related to serious injury, illness or trauma is required to be notified, not other health matters.
- any emergency for which emergency services attended
NOTE: This means an incident, situation or event where there is an imminent or severe risk to the health, safety or wellbeing of a person at an education and care service. It does not mean an incident where emergency services attended as a precaution.
- a child appears to be missing or cannot be accounted for at the service
- a child appears to have been taken or removed from the service in a manner that contravenes the National Regulations
- a child is mistakenly locked in or locked out of the service premises or any part of the premises.
Notify the regulatory authority of serious incidents online through the NQA IT System. You can download the incident, injury, trauma and illness record template to record any supporting evidence or other (non-serious) incidents.
You must notify the regulatory authority within 24 hours of any complaint alleging that a serious incident has occurred while the child is educated and cared for or complaints alleging that the Law has been contravened (Section 174(2)(b)).
Under the National Regulations, policies and procedures must be in place for dealing with complaints. The name and telephone number of the person to whom complaints can be made must be clearly visible at the service (Regulation 168(2)(o) and Regulation 173(2)(b)).
Download an information sheet on using complaints and grievances to support continuous improvement.
You must notify the regulatory authority within 7 days of becoming aware of a circumstance arising at the service that poses a risk to the health, safety or wellbeing of a child (Regulation 175(2)(c), Regulation 176(2)(c)).
As an approved provider you must notify the regulatory authority of certain matters occurring while a child or children are being educated and cared for by the service.
From 1 October 2017 this must include:
- any incident where you reasonably believe that physical and/or sexual abuse of a child has occurred or is occurring at the service
- any allegation that sexual or physical abuse of a child has occurred or is occurring at the service.
Providers and educators play an important role in making informed professional judgements regarding sexualised behaviour involving children. Not all sexual behaviour involving children poses a risk to their safety. It may be age-appropriate and expected sexualised behaviour.
Informed judgements regarding sexualised behaviour help to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of children by:
- supporting healthy sexual development (age-appropriate sexualised behaviour)
- protecting them from harm or abuse (inappropriate or problem sexualised behaviour).
Note that in some cases, sexualised behaviour involving children may fall within reporting requirements under other laws.
State and territory governments have created a range of resources that may assist providers and educators to identify and respond to sexualised behaviour in children.
Resources on responding to problem sexual behaviour in children
Australian Capital Territory
ACT Government guide to reporting child abuse and neglect in the ACT which identifies a range of indicators of sexual abuse.
New South Wales
NSW mandatory reporter guide is a structured decision-making tool intended to complement mandatory reporters’ professional judgement and critical thinking.
NT Department of Education guidelines regarding sexual behaviour in children for schools and early education and care settings.
Qld online child protection guide is a decision support guide to assist professionals to report or refer families to Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services.
SA Department of Education Child Development responding to problem sexual behaviour in children and young people– guidelines for staff in education and care settings.
Tasmanian Government Responding to Family and Sexual Violence Guide to assist practitioners in responding to problem sexualised behaviour involving children.
Vic Department of Human Services specialist practice resource – children with problem sexual behaviours and their families and Child Protection Practice Manual.
Department of Communities, Child Protection -
How to recognise different types of child abuse and what to do when a child or young person tells you that he or she is being abused or neglected resources.
Help services and resources about sexual behaviours in children.
Monitor and manage sexualised behaviour
Educators and providers may find it helpful to use resources like the Traffic Lights Framework (TLF) to monitor and manage sexualised behaviours in children.
The TLF was developed by True and can also be accessed as a Traffic Lights App which describes healthy sexual behaviours (green), concerning behaviours (orange) and harmful behaviours (red) for children 0-17. It also explains possible reasons for specific behaviours, suggested responses and provides case studies.
Visit the True website for more information about these resources.
Please note that while these resources may be helpful for educators and providers, they are not officially endorsed by or associated with ACECQA.
Approved providers, educators and other education and care service staff may be required to report on incidents or suspected incidents involving children under other state and territory laws including child protection legislation.
The approved provider must ensure that each nominated supervisor and person in day-to-day charge of the service has successfully completed the child protection training (if any) required in their jurisdiction. Child protection training may be required under a state or territory law, a government protocol or under another instrument such as a state government memorandum of understanding.
Under the National Law and Regulations the approved provider must also ensure the nominated supervisors and staff members at the service who work with children are advised of the existence and application of the current child protection law in the relevant jurisdiction and understand their obligations under that law.
Staff records must also continue to include staff clearances for working with children checks or teacher registrations.
The approved provider must ensure policies and procedures are in place in relation to providing a child safe environment (regulation 168).