CHILDREN in the Wimmera will soon have greater protection when reporting abuse to an adult.
Under current state government laws, teachers, school principals, doctors, nurses and police officers who believe a child is being abused or harmed are required to report this to the authorities and failure to do so is a criminal offence.
From next month, the state government will expand the list to include registered psychologists, school counsellors and professionals in the youth justice, early childhood and out-of-home care sectors, with a staggered roll out over the next 18 months.
Uniting Wimmera families and community support manager Louise Netherway said the expansion was a step in the right direction.
“Uniting has always had a mandatory reporting policy and it is something we have practiced as part of keeping children safe,” she said.
“Mandatory reporting was one of the recommendations of the Royal Commission and we support the idea.”
She said the laws would help protect children in the Wimmera who have experienced abuse.
“The expansion of the law will go a long way to cementing our common responsibility as a society to protect children where there is cause for concern,” she said.
“Mandatory reporting sets a minimum standard with regard to keeping children safe and protected.
“Uniting is a child safe organisation and our workforce is committed to the safety and wellbeing of all children, at all times. Embedding child safety in everyday thinking and practice is fundamental for us.”
If reelected at November’s state election, the state government has promised to further expand child protection laws to include people in the religious ministry. Those that fail to report child abuse will face criminal charges.
Families and Children Minister Jenny Mikakos said abuse of children revealed in the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse must never be allowed to happen again.