Mandatory Reporting By Australian Teachers of Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect: Legislative Requirements and Questions for Future Direction

Mathews, Benjamin P, Walsh, Kerryann M., Butler, Desmond A., & Farrell, Ann M. (2006) Mandatory Reporting By Australian Teachers of Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect: Legislative Requirements and Questions for Future Direction. Australia and New Zealand Journal of Law and Education, 11(2), pp. 7-22.


Most Australian States and Territories have legislation compelling teachers to report suspicions that a child has been or is likely to be abused or neglected. However, these 'mandatory reporting' laws have significant differences, so teachers in different States and Territories may have quite different legislative duties to report suspected child abuse and neglect. It is important that teachers have an accurate understanding of what they are and are not required to report under the relevant legislation. Legislators and policymakers should also be aware of the differences between laws in Australian jurisdictions to inform ongoing evaluation of their jurisdiction's legal framework; the current contrast between jurisdictions, and particularly the absence in Western Australia of mandatory reporting legislation, recently prompted the Commonwealth Attorney-General to endorse substantial equality in legislation concerning child protection. The purpose of this article is first to introduce the broad context of mandatory reporting laws before detailing the legislative reporting obligations of Australian teachers. This synthesis reveals some significant differences in the laws between jurisdictions, thus raising questions for legislators and policymakers. Policy-based reporting obligations, which operate in two States instead of legislative reporting duties, are noted. Questions about future legislative directions are raised, based on current legislative differences, the issue of whether legislative reporting duties are more appropriate and effective in practice than policy-based reporting duties, and the absence of research into teacher knowledge of law and policy and into teacher reporting practice. It is recommended that research be undertaken to help answer these pressing questions.

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ID Code: 6416
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Child abuse and neglect, Australian mandatory reporting laws, teachers, legislation and policy, legislative differences and questions
ISSN: 1327-7634
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Schools > School of Law
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2006 Australia and New Zealand Education Law Association
Copyright Statement: Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Deposited On: 09 Mar 2007 00:00
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 13:23

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