Department of Health

Vulnerable children - Responsibilities of health professionals

Information about the roles and responsibilities of health professionals to provide for children and young people at risk of harm.

Mandatory reporting of suspected child physical or sexual abuse

The Children Youth and Families Act 2005 is the relevant legislation governing the reporting of concerns about child safety and wellbeing. Under section 182, health professionals are mandated to report suspected child physical or sexual abuse to Child Protection. For a list of mandatory reporters please visit Mandatory reportingExternal Link .

Mandated reporters must make a report:

  • When they form a belief on reasonable grounds that a child needs protection from significant harm as a result of physical injury or sexual abuse.
  • Where they form this belief while practising their profession or carrying out duties of their office, position or employment.
  • Each time they become aware of any further reasonable grounds for this belief.

Making a report to Child Protection

To make a report to Child Protection between 8.45am–5pm, contact the Child Protection Intake Service via any of the intake contact telephone numbersExternal Link .

In the case of an emergency:

  • Call Victoria Police on 000 to report concerns that are life threatening
  • Call the Child Protection After Hours Service on 13 12 78 between 5pm–8.45am weekdays, and 24 hours on weekends and public holidays. This service responds to urgent Child Protection and Aboriginal Children in Aboriginal Care provider matters that are not able to be safely delayed until the following working day. It is not an extension of daytime Child Protection services.

For more information and guidance on Victoria’s Child Protection system, including when a child is in need of protection, forming a reasonable belief and reporting child abuse and neglect please visit making a report to child protectionExternal Link .

The Victorian Forensic Paediatric Medical Service (VFPMS)

VFPMS is a statewide, specialised paediatric medical service that provides assessments for suspected physical abuse, sexual abuse and severe neglect. It provides 24-hour forensic clinical examinations and assessments for children under the age of 18 when child abuse and neglect is suspected.

VFPMS receives referrals from Child Protection, Victoria Police or other health professionals. VFPMS provides a comprehensive forensic assessment report and expert evidence in any court proceedings relating to the child.

The service can be accessed at Royal Children’s HospitalExternal Link or Monash Children’s HospitalExternal Link , or via regional hospitals.

Call 1300 66 11 42 for advice and consultation and visit the Victorian Forensic Paediatric Medical Service websiteExternal Link for more information, including referral.

Failure To Disclose Sexual Offence On A Child Under 16 Years

Any adult who forms a reasonable belief that a sexual offence has been committed by an adult against a child under 16 has an obligation to report that information to police. Failure to disclose the information to police is a criminal offence.

This criminal offence, found in the Crimes Act 1958 ss. 327-330, became law in Victoria in October 2014 and includes all adults working within Victorian health settings. Visit the Department of Justice and Community Safety websiteExternal Link for more information and a downloadable factsheet.

Reviewable deaths

A reviewable death is the death of a second (or subsequent) child of a particular parent or parents. Parents include step-parents, adoptive and foster parents, guardians and anyone who has custody or daily care and control of the child. Reviewable deaths do not include children who are stillborn, or who lived their entire lives in hospital. For more information on reviewable deaths, please visit the Coroner’s Court of Victoria – Reviewable Deaths.

Medical practitioners must tell the coroner when they identify a reviewable death. To report a death, call 1300 309 519 to speak with Coronial Admissions and Enquiries (CA&E). For more information, visit the Coroners Court of Victoria - reviewable deaths page.External Link

Responding to safety and wellbeing concerns

Reporting concerns about an unborn child

Where you identify risks to an unborn child’s safety that may place the child at risk post birth, you should make a report about that unborn child. These risks might include substance misuse, family violence or poor mental health. In making a report about an unborn child:

  • Health services should not assume Child Protection are aware of concerns for an unborn child
  • Health professionals should share as much detailed information as possible on the nature of risk when making the report
  • Information may be used by Child Protection to mitigate risks to the unborn child.

For more information on unborn child reports, please visit the Child Protection ManualExternal Link .

Referring to the Orange Door

If you have significant concern for the wellbeing of a child, but do not believe they are at risk of significant harm, and where the immediate safety of the child will not be compromised, a referral to The Orange Door may be appropriate.

The Orange Door is the access point for families who need assistance with the care and wellbeing of children. The Orange Door will help families contact the services they need to be safe and supported.

Referring to The Orange Door would be appropriate where families:

  • Are experiencing significant parenting problems that may be affecting the child's development.
  • Are experiencing family conflict, including family breakdown and family violence.
  • Are under pressure due to a family member's physical or mental illness, substance abuse, disability or bereavement.
  • Are young, isolated or unsupported.
  • Are experiencing significant social or economic disadvantage that may adversely impact a child's care or development.

To make a referral to the Orange Door, or seek information or advice, contact the local Orange Door by phone, email or in person. Contact details for each local area are available on the Orange Door websiteExternal Link .

Information Sharing

The Child Information Sharing Scheme (CISS)

The Child Information Sharing SchemeExternal Link allows authorised organisations to share information to support child wellbeing or safety.

  • Prescribed services can share and request information with and from other prescribed services where they have safety and wellbeing concerns about a child, or a group of children. This ensures that professionals working with children, young people and families can gain a complete view of the children and young people they work with, making it easier to identify wellbeing or safety needs earlier, and to act on them sooner.
  • This will allow children to receive the best support possible across services. Information sharing should be guided by the child’s best interests.

The Multi- Agency Risk Assessment and Management (MARAM) Framework and Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme (FVISS)

All health workforces are authorised to share information under the FVISS and CISS and can be viewed on the Family Violence Multi-Agency Risk Assessment and Management Framework and Information Sharing page.

Helping to keep children safe at my health organisation

Child Safe Standards

Under the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005, all Victorian health organisations providing services or facilities to children are required to comply with the Victorian Child Safe Standards.

For more information on the Child Safe Standards and resources to support implementation and compliance, visit the Department of Health’s Child Safe Standards page or visit the Commission for Children and Young People’s websiteExternal Link .

Reportable Conduct Scheme

The Reportable Conduct Scheme aims to improve oversight of how organisations respond to allegations of child abuse and child-related misconduct.

For more information about the Scheme, visit the Reportable Conduct Scheme pageExternal Link .

Reviewed 14 September 2023


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