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Child Protection Responsibilities and the National Law

Last updated: 26/10/2015 10:21 PM
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Please note: this information sheet provides a simple interpretation of current legislation, and is not intended to constitute legal advice.

This information has been developed to support services to understand their responsibilities in relation to child protection under the:

  • Education and Care Services National Law (WA) Act 2012 (the National Law)
  • Education and Care Services National Regulations 2012 (the National Regulations).

The relevant parts of the National Law and National Regulations are:

  • National Law: Sections 165 -167, 173-174
  • National Regulations: Regs 55 - 56, 84, 168 - 172 including Supervision of Children
  • Regulations 101, 166, 176
  • National Quality Standards: Quality Area 2 Children's Health and Safety

Services are also required to understand their obligations under the Children and Community Services Act 2004, which can be found at the WA State Legislation website.

In Western Australia it is a legal requirement for doctors, nurses, midwives, teachers and police officers to report all reasonable beliefs of child sexual abuse to the Department for Child Protection and Family Support. Further information is available at the  DCP Mandatory Reporting webpage.

Complying with Western Australian Law is only one part of the role of an Approved Provider. More information and resources about other strategies to safeguard children is available at the working with children checks webpage.

Additional resources for staff information and education can be sourced at the DCP Child Abuse and Neglect webpage.

Meeting the Requirements of the National Law and Regulations

The requirements of the National Law and the National Regulations can be met in a number of ways:

Policy development

The Approved Provider is required to ensure that there are policies and procedures in place about providing a child safe environment (Regulations 168 – 172).

Education for staff

The Approved Provider is required to ensure that all staff in services are aware of the current West Australian child protection laws and understand their obligations and responsibilities under those laws (Regulation 84). Strategies to meet this requirement can include education and care service staff attending regular refresher training or in-house workshops, completing on-line training and by ensuring that staff have access to and are encouraged to read articles on child protection from recognised authorities.

Review of practices

Services can include child protection and child safety issues as a permanent discussion item for staff meetings and whenever the service reviews its Quality Improvement Plan. Staff can decide how they will reflect on their knowledge and practices and plan for any improvements in the future (Regulations 55 – 56). The Guide to the National Quality Standard (Standard 2.3) gives a series of starter questions to assist services as they reflect on their practice.

Assessment of compliance

Compliance with this requirement is outcomes focused; that is, whether educators and staff can demonstrate an awareness of the current child protection law and their responsibilities. The Guide to the National Quality Standard (Standard 2.3 Element 2.3.4) outlines a range of strategies that services may use to meet the requirements of the National Law and National Regulations. This section in the Guide also provides some useful examples of practice which may help services when considering if they have met the requirements.

Child Protection Reporting Requirements

Under the new Law and Regulations the reporting process has changed. For child protection concerns or complaints:

Within the service the approved provider is required:

  • under Section 174(2)(a) of the National Law to notify the Education and Care Regulatory Unit of complaints alleging that the safety, health or wellbeing of a child or children was or is being compromised while that child or children is or are being educated and cared for by the approved education and care service. Regulation 176 requires that this report must be made within 24 hours of the complaint being received, or the incident occurring
  • to complete the relevant notification form (Sl01 is for serious incidents and NL01 is for complaints) and submit it to the Regulatory Authority (RA) in the state or territory that issued the provider approval
  • to notify parents of any incident, injury, trauma or illness as soon as is practicable but no later than 24 hours after the occurrance.

Outside the service:

There has been no change to the process of reporting concerns for a child outside of a service. Services should continue to consult with their local office of the Department for Child Protection and Family Support.

Further Information

Contact details

The Education and Care Regulatory Unit
Phone: 08 6551 8333 or 1800 199 383