Reporting requirements for Church Workers (Employees) - Teachers, Chaplains and Ministers
- New Zealand
There is no legislative requirement in New Zealand for teachers, schools, pastors or churches to report child abuse and neglect to Government Child Protection services. Rather, New Zealand operate a voluntary-only system of reporting children at risk of (or subject to) child maltreatment.
Throughout Australia, a range of different professional groups are required - under law - to report certain types or forms of child abuse and neglect.
For an up-to-date overview of mandatory reporting requirements (by profession/location/types of abuse that are reportable), see this article (published 2010) by the National Child Protection Clearinghouse (NCPCH).
In terms of mandatory reporting in Australia, teachers in QLD are not required - under Child Protection legislation - to report children at risk or or subject of harm and abuse. However, teachers in QLD have an 'obligation' to report, under The Education (General Provisions) Act 1989 sections 146A and 146B, if a student under the age of 18-years is believed to have been or is at risk of sexual abuse by a school employee.
For pastors, clergy or ministers of religion, South Australia is currently the only jurisdiction in Australia that requires religious leaders to report children believed to be at risk of (or subject to) harm or abuse. This mandatory reporting legislation therefore covers the Church's ministers and they are legally bound to comply with it. The exclusion that applies to the 'confessional' under South Australian reporting-law does NOT apply to interns, licensed and ordained ministers of the Adventist Church and is intended to cover the formal role of the confessional within the Catholic and Anglican faiths.
- The Church's Policy to Report
In terms of the Church's policy, it is recongised that legislated reporting requirements set only the minimum standard that society, through its elected Parliament, consider necessary to be mandated (compelled) by law. Beyond this standard, the Church's policy requires all ministers, chaplains and school teachers to report all reasonable suspicions of children at risk of (or subject to) harm or abuse, to Government Child Protection Services. At times this reporting will be done in the capacity of a mandated reporter, at other times as a voluntary reporter. So long as mandatory reporting requirements are met, voluntary reporting within the Church may be done by (or in conjunction with) a senior or designated person within the local Church, School or other church-affiliated entity.
If a Church Worker (employee) fails to report a child or young person who is believed to be at risk of (or subject to) harm or abuse (or who discloses such), they may receive a formal caution (or other disciplinary action) from the employing Church Authority if an apparent breach of Church Policy is established.
The Church Policy to report, in a voluntary capacity, is also the Policy of the Church throughout New Zealand.
- Where to Report
See the Supporting People menu of this site for a link to an up-to-date list of the statutory Child Protection agencies throughout Australia and New Zealand.
For an article by Child Family Community Australian (June 2012) on mandatory reporting across Australia, visit this link to the CFCA website (the CFCA is an amalgamation of several clearinghouses under a new umbrella body hosted by the Australian Institute of Family Studies): http://www.aifs.gov.au/cfca/pubs/factsheets/01/index.html