Reporting child abuse

To make a report to child protection a person needs to have formed a reasonable belief that a child has suffered or is likely to suffer significant harm as a result of abuse or neglect, and that their parent has not protected or is unlikely to protect the child from harm of that type. A reasonable belief does not require proof.

For immediate help

  • To report concerns that are life threatening, ring Victoria Police: 000
  • To report concerns about the immediate safety of a child after hours, call the After Hours Child Protection Emergency Service: 13 12 78.

When to make a report

Child protection receive reports about children when there are concerns the child is in need of protection. A child in need of protection is a child who has suffered or is likely to suffer significant harm as a result of abuse or neglect, and their parent has not protected or is unlikely to protect the child from harm of that type.  

To make a report to child protection a person needs to have formed a reasonable belief that a child has suffered or is likely to suffer significant harm as a result of abuse or neglect, and that their parent has not protected or is unlikely to protect the child from harm of that type.

Information provided to child protection when a report is made needs to be sufficiently detailed for child protection to identify the child at risk of harm. 

Where concerns relate to an alleged perpetrator of abuse, who may pose a risk more generally to all children, the concerns should be reported to Police.

Contact Child Protection

In Victoria, reports to child protection must be made to a protective intervener, or other appropriately delegated officer. Reports cannot be made via the department’s website or email, as staff who monitor the department’s website are not delegated officers. Almost all reports are made to child protection by phone. 

To make a report, you should contact the child protection intake service covering the local government area (LGA) where the child normally resides. 

Telephone numbers to make a report during business hours (8.45am -5.00pm), Monday to Friday, are listed below. 

  • North Division intake: 1300 664 977
  • South Division intake: 1300 655 795
  • East Division intake: 1300 360 391
  • West Division intake - metropolitan: 1300 664 977
  • West Division intake - rural and regional: 1800 075 599 

If you are not sure which number to call, check the Child protection contacts page for details on the LGAs covered by each intake service.

If you are worried about a child’s wellbeing, but don’t believe the child is in need of protection

Child FIRST or The Orange Door

If you have significant concern for the wellbeing of a child, but do not believe they are at risk of significant harm, and where the immediate safety of the child will not compromised, a referral to Child FIRST or The Orange Door may be appropriate.

Child FIRST, as the access point for family services, is progressively transitioning to The Orange Door. The Orange Door is the new access point for families who need assistance with the care and wellbeing of children, including those experiencing family violence, to contact the services they need to be safe and supported.

Referring to Child FIRST or The Orange Door would be appropriate where families:

  • Are experiencing significant parenting problems that may be affecting the child's development
  • Are experiencing family conflict, including family breakdown
  • Are under pressure due to a family member's physical or mental illness, substance abuse, disability or bereavement
  • Are young, isolated or unsupported 
  • Are experiencing significant social or economic disadvantage that may adversely impact on a child's care or development.

Contact numbers to make a referral in each local government area are listed on the Child and family services information, referral and support teams (Child FIRST) page.

The identity of a reporter must remain confidential, unless:

  • The reporter chooses to inform the child or family of the report
  • The reporter consents in writing to their identity as the reporter being disclosed
  • A court or tribunal decides it needs this information in order to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the child
  • A court or tribunal decides that in the interests of justice the evidence needs to be given.

Failure to disclose child sexual abuse offence

The criminal offence for failure to disclose child sexual abuse came into effect on 27 October 2014. Any adult who forms a reasonable belief that a sexual offence has been committed in Victoria by an adult against a child under 16 years of age must report that information to police unless they have a reasonable excuse. A reasonable excuse may include fear for safety or where the information has already been reported.

The offence applies to all adults in Victoria, not just professionals who work with children.

For further information

Information on how abuse can be recognised can be found in You and your child: a guide for parents of a child who has been sexually abuse in the Related resources section of this page.

Contacts
Victoria Police
000
After hours child protection emergency service
131 278

5.00 pm to 9.00am Monday to Friday
24 hours on weekends and public holidays

Child Protection