Child abuse

Child abuse or child-safety related misconduct is defined as an act (or series of acts) that endangers a child or young person’s physical or emotional health or development and/or a failure to provide conditions to the extent that the health and development of the child or young person is significantly impaired or placed at risk.

Categories of abuse and maltreatment:

Clergy, employees and volunteers play a vital role in identifying child abuse or child-safety related misconduct and are encouraged to be vigilant in responding to possible indicators or signs, disclosures, allegations and reports, and to take action to support a child or young person who is at risk of or experiencing harm.

Reporting child abuse and safety related misconduct

Any person (e.g. child, young person, adult, priest, employee, volunteer) can make a report in relation to current or historical child abuse or child-safety related misconduct.

All clergy, employees and volunteers are required to make a report if they have formed a ‘reasonable belief’ that a child or young person has experienced abuse, is experiencing abuse or is at risk of harm from child-safety related misconduct.

All concerns, allegations or complaints of current or historical abuse and child-safety related misconduct will be taken seriously, treated with sensitivity, and acted upon consistent with the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne’s moral, ethical and legal obligations.

Depending on the nature of the behaviour that is reported (e.g. a criminal act) the matter will be immediately reported to Victoria Police for action. If the behaviour is deemed child-safety related misconduct (i.e. not criminal behaviour), the matter will be referred for investigation and subsequent disciplinary action, if the matter is substantiated. All child abuse or child-safety related misconduct matters are reported to the Reportable Conduct Scheme (Commission for Children and Young People).

Immediate danger

If a child or young person is in imminent danger, a report to Victoria Police must be made immediately (phone ‘000’).

The Professional Standards Unit (PSU) is responsible for coordinating reports of current and historical abuse or child-safety related misconduct and liaising with statutory authorities e.g. Victoria Police, Commission for Children and Young People (Reportable Conduct Scheme).

The PSU will:

  • Offer support to the person(s) involved
  • Initiate risk management processes to ensure the safety of the person and others, clarify the nature of the complaint to determine relevant reporting requirements
  • Report the matter to relevant authorities (i.e. Victoria Police, Child Protection) in accordance with legal requirements and duty of care as soon as possible.
  • Wait for clearance before starting an investigation. The PSU will be guided by the recommendations of Victoria Police and/or Child Protection in relation to any action that may be required to promote the safety of those involved and the integrity of an investigation.
  • Report the matter to regulatory bodies e.g. the Commission for Children and Young People

Professional Standards Unit

Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm
Phone: 9926 5630
Email: psu@cam.org.au

In Victoria, if alleged current or historical child abuse is perpetrated by:

Clergy, employees and volunteers

The matter is to be reported to the Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team (SOCIT) within Victoria Police: Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team (SOCIT)

A family member

The matter is reported to Child Protection – Department of Health and Human Services:

  • North and West (Metro) region: 1300 664 977
  • South region: 1300 655 795
  • East region: 1300 360 391
  • West (Rural) region: 1800 075 599

After-hours and weekends: 13 12 78

A child or young person

(e.g. sexually harmful behaviour, aggression, violence, online exploitation)

The matter is reported to Child Protection (DHHS) and/or the Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team (SOCIT) within Victoria Police: Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team (SOCIT)