The difference between the two situations is in the duty to warn scenario, the community worker takes a position that ethical obligations override the duty of confidentiality owed to the client, whereas in reporting matters, the worker is in a position where legal obligations override the duty of confidentiality owed to the client.
The Child Protection Act 1999 (Qld) at section 148 requires that a responsible person who becomes aware or reasonably suspects harm must report that to the Chief Executive of the Department of Child Safety.
For the purposes of this article and series, we’ll be focusing on the role of social workers as mandated reporters of suspected child abuse and neglect.
Most social workers in practice today have always been mandated reporters, but mandated reporting itself is only about 50 years old, and the role of mandated reporter is constantly evolving.
This must be differentiated from cases where a community worker may have a duty to warn.
We’ll also discuss the social worker’s role as mandated reporter and tease out when you’re a mandated reporter, and when you’re not.
Other articles in this series will provide more detail on what, when, and how to report suspicions of child abuse and neglect.
If you believe a child is in immediate danger call Police on 000. Individuals are encouraged to contact the relevant department or organisation to clarify requirements in their states or territories, or in relation to legislation.
For more information, see Mandatory reporting is a term used to describe the legislative requirement imposed on selected classes of people to report suspected cases of child abuse and neglect to government authorities.