Today’s correspondent, from WA, asks about

… mandatory reporting for suspected child abuse in the pre-hospital setting.

This is mandatory for registered nurses when clinically assessing a patient, just wondering where Paramedics now stand.

Using WA as the exemplar, the Children and Community Services Act 2004 (WA) s 124B says:

A person who —

(a) is a doctor, nurse, midwife, police officer, teacher or boarding supervisor; and

(b) believes on reasonable grounds that a child —

(i) has been the subject of sexual abuse that occurred on or after commencement day; or

(ii) is the subject of ongoing sexual abuse;


(c) forms the belief —

(i) in the course of the person’s work (whether paid or unpaid) as a doctor, nurse, midwife, police officer, teacher or boarding supervisor; and

(ii) on or after commencement day,

must report the belief as soon as practicable after forming the belief.

(The commencement day referred to in (b)(i) and (c)(ii) above is ‘the day on which the Children and Community Services Amendment (Reporting Sexual Abuse of Children) Act 2008 section 5 came into operation’ that is 1 January 2009).

This Western Australian Act makes it mandatory to report sexual abuse, not all physical or emotional abuse.)

The list does not refer to ‘registered health professionals’ so does not extend to paramedics.  Whether the legislature will choose to amend the Act once paramedic registration is in place remains to be seen.  There are however 15 registered health professions (including paramedics) and only 3 (doctor, nurse and midwife) are listed so there is no guarantee that the necessary change will be made or is intended.  Whether paramedics are mandatory reporters in other jurisdictions will depend on the specific terms of the legislation in that jurisdiction.

Just because paramedics are not listed as mandatory reporters does not mean that they cannot report their fears regarding child safety – see Discovering crime during an emergency response (July 19, 2016) and the other posts referred to there, in particular Paramedics and Patient Confidentiality number 2 (July 23, 2015)).