1. Purpose

All children have a right to feel safe and to be safe. At Princes Hill Secondary College we have a legal and moral responsibility to respond to serious incidents involving abuse and neglect of the children with whom we have contact, and to report instances that we believe involve physical abuse, sexual abuse or neglect.

2. Policy Statement

This Policy complies with Ministerial Order No. 870 ‐ Child Safe Standards ‐ Managing the risk of child abuse in schools.

This policy helps all staff understand mandatory reporting, and the failure to disclose offence which commenced on 27 October 2014, and the failure to protect offence which commenced on 1 July 2015. In summary:

3. Implementation

To ensure that children’s rights to be safe are maintained and that each child is protected against physical and sexual abuse, and neglect:

In response to the Betrayal of Trust Report, the Victorian Government has introduced new criminal offences to protect children from sexual abuse. New legislation states that failure to report, or take action in relation to suspected child sexual abuse can now constitute a criminal offence. This includes:

Failure to Disclose

This offence applies to all adults (not just professionals who work with children) who form a reasonable belief that another adult may have committed a sexual offence against a child under 16 years of age and fail to report this information to Victoria Police.

More information can be accessed using this link.

Failure to Protect

This offence applies to people in positions of authority (Principal Class) who:

More information can be accessed using this link.

All Princes Hill Secondary College staff must act as soon as they witness an incident that breaches student safety or when they form a reasonable belief that a child has been or is at risk of being abused. Six different identified types of abuse are:

  1. Physical: Abuse which is any non‐accidental infliction of physical violence on a child by any person.

  2. Sexual: Is when a person uses power or authority over a child to involve them in sexual activity (which can also include non‐contact offences). It may not always involve force, as in some circumstances, a child may be manipulated.

  3. Grooming: Is when a person engages in predatory conduct to prepare a child for sexual activity at a later time. This may involve communicating and/or attempting to befriend or establish a relationship or other emotional connection with the child or their parent/carer.

  4. Emotional: Emotional child abuse occurs when a child is repeatedly rejected, isolated, or frightened by threats or by witnessing family violence.
  5. Neglect: Serious neglect significantly impairs the health or physical development of the child or places this development at serious risk.
  6. Family Violence: Family violence can include physical violence or threats, verbal abuse, emotional and physical abuse, sexual abuse and financial and social abuse.

Receiving a Disclosure (Current/Former Student)

If a child discloses that they have been, are being, or are in danger of being abused, Princes Hill Secondary College staff must treat the disclosure seriously and take immediate action by following the Four Critical Actions for Schools: Responding to Incidents, Disclosures or Suspicions of Child Abuse or the Four Critical Actions for Schools: Responding to Student Sexual Offending.  

If a former student discloses historical abuse, all staff MUST act. If the former student is currently of school age and attending a Victorian school, staff must follow the Four Critical Actions for Schools: Responding to Incidents, Disclosures or Suspicions of Child Abuse. If the student is no longer of school age or attending a Victorian school, staff must still act by contacting Victoria Police. All disclosures MUST be documented utilising the Responding to Suspected Child Abuse template. Strategies and advise on how to handle a disclosure can be found at Child Protection and Child Safe Standards (PROTECT): Identify child abuse.

Forming a Suspicion

All staff suspicions that a child has been or may be in danger of being abused must be taken seriously. Princes Hill Secondary College staff should liaise with our Child Safety Officer, who will advise on the specific incident.

Forming a Reasonable Belief

If Princes Hill Secondary College staff witness behaviour, have a suspicion or receive a disclosure of child abuse, that staff member needs to determine whether they have formed a 'Reasonable Belief' that a child is being abused or is at risk of being abused. A reasonable belief does not require proof (but needs to be more than a rumour).

A ‘reasonable belief’ or a ‘belief on reasonable grounds’ is not the same as having proof but is more than mere rumour or speculation. A ‘reasonable belief’ is formed if a reasonable person in the same position would have formed the belief on the same grounds. For example, a ‘reasonable belief’ might be formed if:

When identifying child abuse, it is critical to remember that:

Responding to Incidents, Disclosures and Suspicions of Child Abuse

Staff members of Princes Hill Secondary College play a critical role in protecting children in their care, including:

Notification of a Report

In instances where a staff member discusses with the principal team the forming of a reasonable belief, the principal team will inform the staff member by email whether a report has, or has not been made.

Providing Support to Staff

Allegations and instances of student sexual offending can cause trauma and significantly impact on the mental health and wellbeing of school community members.

For more information on how to support students and impacted staff members, see Providing Ongoing Support.

Individual Support

If you need to talk to someone, it is recommended that you speak to the school leadership team about arranging appropriate support. You can also talk to your GP or another allied health professional. 

Staff can also contact the Employee Assistance Program on 1300 361 008.

Contact Information

DHHS Child Protection

North Division: 1300 664 977

South Division: 1300 655 795

East Division: 1300 360 391

West Division (Rural): 1800 075 599

West Division (Metro): 1300 664 977

After Hours, Weekends or Public Holidays: 13 12 78


Victoria Police  000 or contact your local police station

DET Security Services Unit: (03) 9589 6266

Student Incident and Recovery Unit: (03) 9637 2934

Employee Conduct Branch: (03) 9637 2595

  • In the case of international students, the Principal must notify the International Education Division on (03) 9637 2990 to ensure that appropriate support is arranged for the student
  • In the case of Koorie students, the Principal must notify the Regional Office to ensure that the Regional Koorie support officer can arrange appropriate support for the student

4. Evaluation & Review

This policy will be reviewed every 4 years.

5. Definitions

PROTECT: Child Safe Standard 3: Definitions

6. References

Related Legislation

Department Resources

Other Resources

7. Related Policies

Child Safety Policy

Duty of Care

Police and DHS Interviews

Responding to Student Sexual Offending

Requests for Information about Students

Risk Management

Subpoenas and Witness Summonses

Policy Controls


AuthorBrian Pender
Internal ApproverTrevor Smith
Council ApprovalComplete
Approval Date


Review Date