Advice Leaflet 1: What parents need to know about the Family and Community Services, Community Services division "Helpline"

  

  • Anyone can call the "Helpline" and report a suspected case of child abuse and neglect.

  • This includes relatives, friends or neighbours or just anyone passing by your family home.

  • You will not know who the caller was as their identity is protected by law and cannot be disclosed.

  

Health personnel (doctors and nurses), teachers, social workers and other counselling and welfare sector workers are mandatory reporters and are required by law to report suspected cases of child abuse and neglect. Their identity is also protected by law and cannot be disclosed.

  

If you are reported to the 'Helpline" Family and Community Services, Community Services division caseworkers may come to your family home to investigate the suspected case of child abuse and neglect. They have a legal right to enter your family home and they will call the police to help them if necessary.

  

Sometimes parents call the "Helpline' to seek support services to help them with the parenting of their children. Parents who may be considering calling the 'Helpline" should know that the help they think they need may not be provided. Instead a call to the "Helpline" may trigger an investigation by Family and Community Services caseworkers into possible child abuse and neglect.

  

The type of things that can lead Family and Community Services, Community Services division caseworkers to substantiate a case of child abuse and neglect include the following items, often in combination:

  • A report of non accidental injury to a child (i.e. shaken baby, broken or badly bruised limb)

  • A failure to seek medical treatment for a sick or injured child

  • A child's delayed speech or physical development

  • A report of a child being hit (i.e with a hand or other object such as a stick)  

  • An unkept household (i.e. dirty kitchen and bathroom, general lack of hygiene, piles of unwashed clothes)

  • No edible food in the house

  • Children saying they are hungry

  • Inappropriate sleeping arrangement for a child (i.e. a young child sleeping with a parent, inadequate bedding)

  • A home with aggressive pets (especially large dogs)

  • Leaving children unsupervised and alone at home

  • An unfenced garden and broken gates that allows a child to wander outside the family home

  • Not using child restraints when driving a car

  • Non attendance of children at school

  • Children arriving at school, ill dressed, dirty, and ill feed and without lunch

  • Children displaying sexualised behaviour (knowing too much about sex given their age)

  • Parental drug and alcohol misuse

  • Domestic violence (i.e. shouting abuse, screaming, hitting)

  • Parental behaviour that suggests mental health issues

  

The test Family and Community Services, Community Services division caseworkers  use to substantiate a case of child abuse and neglect is whether any of the above places your child a 'risk of significant harm'.

  

If you are concerned about being investigated for suspected child abuse and neglect use this list and check that none of the above conditions apply to your family home. If some of these conditions do apply make the effort to change them immediately.

  

Acting in this way will prevent Family and Community Services, Community Services division caseworkers from having a reason to investigate your family situation. An investigation can result in the immediate removal of your children. You need to act now to prevent this from happening.

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