Duty of every Victorian adult to report child sexual abuse
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: Crimes Act 1958 (Vic), s327.
Duty of person in religious ministry to report
Every person in Holy Orders or authorised for lay ministry who in the course of their ministry forms the belief on reasonable grounds that a child is in need of protection on a ground referred to below must report to the Secretary of the Department of Human Services that belief and the reasonable grounds for it as soon as practicable—
(a) after forming the belief; and
(b) after each occasion on which he or she becomes aware of any further reasonable grounds for the belief.
The grounds are that–
(c) the child has suffered, or is likely to suffer, significant harm as a result of physical injury and the child‘s parents have not protected, or are unlikely to protect, the child from harm of that type; and
(d) the child has suffered, or is likely to suffer, significant harm as a result of sexual abuse and the child‘sparents have not protected, or are unlikely to protect, the child from harm of that type.
Children, Youth and Families Act 2005, s184 (commencing no later than 1 September 2020)
- To have reasonable grounds to believe a child is in need of protection, a mandated reporter under the CYFA should believe there is risk of significant harm as a result of physical injury or sexual abuse, and the parents cannot or will not protect the child.
- Reporters do not need to prove a child is in need of protection or abuse has taken place, or to investigate their concerns.
Duty of responsible organisational person to act to protect
A person who knows of a substantial risk of child abuse by someone over 18 years of age associated with the organisation, and has the power or responsibility to reduce or remove that risk and negligently fails to do so, commits a criminal offence under this section, punishable by 5 years imprisonment; Crimes Act 1958 (Vic), s49O:
Duty of the holder of a WWC to report any change in circumstances
The holder of a Working with Children Card in Victoria is subject to a statutory obligation to notify the Secretary to the Department of Justice and the Diocese and Kooyoora Office of Professional Standards of any relevant change in circumstances as defined in that section: Working with Children Act 2005 (Vic), s20.
Duty of Head of Entity to report conduct to the Commission for Children and Young People
Under the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005, the relevant religious body for the Anglican Church in the Diocese of Melbourne including its parishes is the Melbourne Anglican Diocesan Corporation Ltd (the Diocesan Corporation) which legally appoints all office holders.
The Head of the Entity constituted by the Diocesan Corporation is the Archbishop of Melbourne.
The Head of the Entity has a duty under the Act to notify the Commission for Children and Young People of reportable allegations and take further specified action. The Kooyoora Office of Professional Standards has undertaken to notify on behalf of the Archbishop the Commission and take further action as may be required under the Act.
Under these arrangements, there is one notifying body on behalf of the Diocese and its parishes.
It is essential to the effective operation of these arrangements that those exercising leadership positions in parishes and congregations strictly observe the requirements for mandatory reporting to the Director of Professional Standards at firstname.lastname@example.org. Failure to do so will put at risk due compliance with the requirements of the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act by the Diocese.
Anglican Diocese of Melbourne
Duty of prescribed Church worker to report to Professional Standards
A prescribed Church worker who believes on reasonable grounds that a person has suffered harm, or is at risk of harm, as a result of misconduct by another Church worker and has no reason to believe that the Director of Professional Standards is aware of those facts, must as soon as possible report the matter to the Director: Professional Standards Uniform Act 2016-2019, 17(1).
A prescribed Church worker who believes on reasonable grounds that a Person of Concern is participating or wishes to participate in the life of a parish and has no reason to believe that the Director is aware of those facts, must as soon as possible report the matter to the Director: s17(2)
Prescribed Church workers are defined in schedule 1 of that Act and include all clergy and lay leaders including Parish Council members.
The Archbishop is subject to a similar reporting obligation under the Episcopal Standards legislation of the diocese.
Duty of every Church worker to report certain criminal charges made against them
A Church worker (clergy or lay person) who has been charged in any jurisdiction in Australia or elsewhere with a sexual offence, including grooming or an offence relating to child pornography whether committed within or outside the Diocese must forthwith notify in writing the Director of Professional Standards at email@example.com, giving particulars of the charge: Professional Standards Uniform Act 2016 – 19, s18.
Frequently asked questions
Reportable Conduct Scheme
From 1 January 2018 religious organisations, including the Diocese of Melbourne, became subject to the Reportable Conduct Scheme, constituted under the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005. This information sheet explains the primary role to be taken by the Kooyoora Office of Professional Standards for the Diocese of Melbourne in reporting matters on behalf of the Diocese and parishes.