The Queensland Child Protection (Mandatory Reporting – Mason’s Law) Amendment Act 2016 ('Mason's Law) commenced on 1 July 2017. The Bill went through a series of amendments after a report by the Committee, which postponed the commencement date and expanded the occupations required to be mandatory reporters. In addition, the Child Protection and Education Legislation (Reporting of Abuse) Amendment Bill 2017 (QLD) which is currently awaiting a report from the Education, Tourism, Innovation and Small Business Committee, may see members of the clergy also obligated to report any real or suspected sexual or physical abuse.
Apart from postponing the commencement date from 1 January 2017 to 1 July 2017, the amended Bill for Mason's Law inserted a provision stipulating that early childhood education and care professionals were to be included in the list of mandatory reporters.
In addition, the amended Bill defines ‘early childhood education and care professional’ as an individual who is not a volunteer and is above 18 years of age, and is an approved provider, a supervisor or educator for a Queen Elizabeth Centre (QEC) approved service under the Education and Care Services Act 2013 (QLD). Alternatively, the person can be an approved provider, a nominated supervisor or educator for an approved education and care service or a family day care coordinator or an educator for an approved education and care service under the Education and Care Services National Law (QLD). The effect of this insertion, according to the explanatory notes is to simplify the legislation for better clarity as well as explicitly cover the intended legislative purpose.
Importantly, the amended Bill inserts a new Section 13H in order to provide for conferrals with colleagues and related sharing of information. This explicitly allows a relevant person to share information with a colleague for the purpose of the relevant person forming a suspicion about whether a child is suffering or at risk of suffering significant harm due to physical or sexual abuse, or for the person to give a report or keep a record, or in order to take appropriate action to deal with the suspected harm to the child.
Due to the amendments, early childhood educators and carers are explicitly included in the list of persons obligated to report any suspected risk of harm. This amendment appears to be targeted due to the background of Mason’s Law, where the day care services failed to report signs of harm or suffering to relevant authorities. :
Earlier this year (2017) in March, the Child Protection and Education Legislation (Reporting of Abuse) Amendment Bill 2017 (QLD) ('the Bill') was introduced in order to expand the list of persons upon whom the obligation of mandatory reporting is imposed. There may be an amendment to the Child Protection Act 1999 (QLD) and the Education (General Provisions) Act 2006 (QLD), which imposes the obligation of mandatory reporting of real or suspected abuse on ministers of religion by inserting a new subsection into section 13E(1). Currently,, enacted through the Children’s Protection (Miscellaneous) Amendment Act 2005 (SA). However it excludes suspicions developed a a result of the confessional, which the new Queensland Bill does not exclude.
The Legislative Assembly has set 9 March 2018 as the date on which the report from the Committee must be tabled from the new Bill..
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Child Protection Act 1999 (QLD), published on TimeBase LawOne.
Child Protection and Education Legislation (Reporting of Abuse) Amendment Bill 2017 (QLD), first reading speech and explanatory materials and Committee report, as published on TimeBase LawOne.
Child Protection (Mandatory Reporting – Mason’s Law) Amendment Act 2016 (QLD) and the Child Protection (Mandatory Reporting – Mason’s Law) Amendment Bill 2016 (QLD), published on TimeBase LawOne.
Minister for Communities, Women and Youth, Minister for Child Safety and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, the Honourable Shannon Fentiman, ',' (media release), 30 June 2017.
Associate Professor Ben Matthews, Australian Centre for Health Law Research, '' (Report for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse), March 2014.
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