The Liberal National Party took action to amend the Child Protection Act to make reporting obligations for the Early Childhood Education and Care sector mandatory.
Labor sat on its hands ignoring important recommendations of the Law Reform Commission to change child protection laws to include child care workers as mandatory reporters of suspected abuse.
Under previous laws early child care workers were not required to report suspected abuse.
In government, the LNP requested the Queensland Law Reform Commission review child protection mandatory reporting laws for the early childhood education and care sector.
The overwhelming majority of submissions received by the Commission supported extending the mandatory reporting obligation under the Act to apply to the early childhood education and care sector.
The Commission’s report was presented to the Palaszczuk Labor Government in December 2015.
- More than 28,000 children under 5 are in childcare across Queensland
- The LNP’s Mason’s Law will come into effect on 1 July 2017
- Early childcare educators and supervisors will now be compelled by law to report suspected cases of child abuse
Delivering from Opposition
Queensland’s youngest and most vulnerable children will be better protected after the LNP Opposition successfully passed laws which make it mandatory for early childhood workers to report suspected cases of child abuse.
Our policies and initiatives, like mandatory reporting for early childhood workers of suspect child abuse, are helping to provide safe and liveable communities across Queensland.
The passing of the Child Protection (Mandatory Reporting – Mason’s Law) Amendment Bill 2016 will extend mandatory reporting obligations to include workers in early childhood education and care, bringing Queensland in line with other States and territories.
Mandatory reporting laws are an important part of the Queensland child protection system and are critical in detecting serious cases of child abuse that might otherwise go unnoticed.
These laws would never have come about without a long-running and dedicated campaign by John and Sue Sandeman, whose toddler grandson Mason Parker was tragically murdered in 2011.
The laws will empower dedicated workers in our childcare centres to speak up for the children entrusted to them each day.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why did we need tougher reporting laws?
Mandatory reporting laws are enacted in each Australian jurisdiction. It is broadly accepted that these laws are an important component of the broader child protection system.
In Queensland, a range of professionals who work and interact with children are mandated by law to report child safety concerns to the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services. These include; doctors, registered nurses, teachers, police officers who work in child protection,and those engaged to perform a child advocate function. Early childhood education and care professionals are not mandatory reporters under current legislation. In fact, Queensland and Western Australia are the only two Australian jurisdictions that do not extend mandatory reporting to the early childhood education and care sector.
In April 2011, Mason Parker, a 16-month-old toddler from Townsville, was murdered by his mother’s then boyfriend. In the days prior to Mason’s death, bruising was observed on his body by child care staff at the centre he regularly attended. While staff members followed their internal procedures and reported the concerns to the Centre Director, they were never passed on to the authorities.
Mason’s maternal grandparents, John and Sue Sandeman have lobbied since that time for mandatory reporting obligations to apply to the early childhood education and care sector.
Why didn’t the LNP fix this issue in government?
On 6 November 2014, the Queensland Law Reform Commission was requested by the LNP Government to review child protection mandatory reporting laws for the early childhood education and care sector. The overwhelming majority of submissions received by the Commission supported extending the mandatory reporting obligation under the Act to apply to the early childhood education and care sector.
What did the Queensland Law Reform Commission recommend?
The Commission’s report was presented to government in December 2015 following a 12-month review. The Commission’s key recommendations included:
- that the mandatory reporting provisions in Chapter 2, Part 1AA, Division 2 of the Child Protection Act 1999 should be expanded to apply to the ECEC sector.
- that the mandatory reporting obligation should apply to approved education and care services under the Education and Care Services National Law (Queensland) and the Education and Care Services Act 2013 ; and
- that the mandatory reporting obligation should apply to the following persons within an approved early childhood education and care service:
a. a person who is an approved provider, nominated supervisor, or family day care co-ordinator; and
b. a person who holds at least an approved certificate III level education and care qualification, or higher.