What happens when we are contacted?

When concerns are reported, child safety officers will determine how best to respond to the situation.

Decisions take into account the need to ensure the safety of the child, while respecting the diversity of family values, lifestyles and culture.

Our department will respond to child protection concerns by either:

Child Concern Report

  • recording a Child Concern Report when child protection concerns received by our department do not reach the threshold for a notification.
  • recording a notification if the concerns that are reported to the department suggest that a child has been harmed, or is at risk of harm and does not have a parent able and willing to protect the child from harm.

At this point the person who notified us (the 'notifier') may be provided with information, advice or a referral to another agency to assist the child and family.


If the concerns that are reported to the department are recorded as notification:

  • Our child safety officers will assess the concerns by completing an investigation and assessment.
  • This is done by interviewing the child, family and, if necessary, significant others such as the child's school, doctor or relatives.
  • A police officer may be involved in the investigation, particularly if the concerns relate to physical harm or sexual abuse.

A notification is also recorded on an unborn child when there is reasonable suspicion that the baby will be at risk of harm after they are born.

Moving a child to a safe place

A child safety officer or police officer can move a child to a safe place in the following circumstances:

  • the child is under 12 years of age
  • a parent or other member of the child's family is not present and cannot be located
  • it is not considered necessary to take the child into custody to ensure their protection (the circumstances are not apparently due to neglect or abandonment).

The officer must move the child to a safe place, or make arrangements for another reliable person to move them to a safe place, where they can remain until they return to the care of the parents or a family member.

A safe place can be:

  • the home of a neighbour who knows the child and parents
  • the home of a relative or friend
  • the child's family day care provider
  • a hospital
  • an approved foster placement
  • a child safety service centre
  • a police station.