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WA Child Protection Society

Frequently Asked Questions

Child Protection Basics

Child Protection information to assist you to safeguard children and young people in their homes and in your organisation.

What are the types of child abuse and neglect?

Child abuse and neglect is a very real problem in Australia. No official statistics or reports show the true extent of the problem, because many cases of abuse or neglect go unreported. The four categories of child abuse are listed below. They include physical abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, and sexual abuse. Many of our services focus on the prevention and detection of sexual abuse however we also provide broader training and education that covers all forms of abuse and neglect including exposure to domestic violence.

Definitions of the primary types of child abuse and neglect in Australia

Emotional Child Abuse

Any act by a person having the care of a child that results in the child suffering any kind of significant emotional deprivation or trauma. Children affected by exposure to family violence are also included in this category.


Any serious act or omission by a person having the care of a child that, within the bounds of cultural tradition, constitutes a failure to provide conditions that are essential for the healthy physical and emotional development of a child.

Child Physical Abuse

Any non-accidental physical act inflicted upon a child by a person having the care of a child.

Child Sexual Abuse

Any act by a person having the care of a child that exposes the child to, or involves the child in, sexual processes beyond his or her understanding, or contrary to accepted community standards.

Source: AIHW (2019), pp. 82, 86, 87, 89

What is the child protection process in Australia?

In Australia, state and territory governments are responsible for statutory child protection. Each responsible department assists vulnerable children and young people who have been, or are at risk of being abused, neglected, or otherwise harmed, or whose parents are unable to provide adequate care or protection.

Notifying Authorities; A person/other body contacts an authorised department with an allegation of child abuse, neglect, maltreatment, or harm. This notification is assessed to determine whether:

  • an investigation is required
  • referral to support services is more appropriate
  • no further protective action is necessary

In Western Australia the Government Department responsible for child protection is the Department for Communities:

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If you are worried about the safety of a child or young person in Western Australia notify your local Child Protection Office:

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If you are a mandatory reporter of child protection and have formed a belief that a child or young person is at risk contact the Mandatory Reporting Service:

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If you are experiencing family and domestic violence:

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If a child or young person is in immediate danger call the Police on  131 444.

In an emergency call 000. 

Why is it difficult to speak up or report sexual abuse?

In Australia it is common for children and young people to be abused, but not as common for them to report it or to speak out about it. There are many reasons why young people don’t report abuse.

Some of the reasons include:

  • Mistrust and loss of confidence in the police, justice system and/or government agencies
  • A belief that perpetrators of sexual or family violence will not be punished
  • Fear of racism
  • Fear of being removed from their homes or community
  • Social and cultural pressure from other members of the family or community not to report abuse or violence
  • The belief that reporting is a betrayal of the culture and community, and the fear of being shunned by the community
  • Wanting to protect the offender
  • Shame
  • Guilt
  • Thinking no one would believe them
  • Lack of understanding about what family violence and child sexual abuse is
  • High levels of violence and the normalisation of family violence
  • Lack of culturally appropriate services
  • Lack of knowledge about legal rights and the services available
  • Language and communication barriers
  • Geographical isolation (i.e. nobody to report to)

If children and young people experience abuse or neglect at a young age, their brain may not develop properly. Without help, this can be permanent. They can also experience homelessness, mental and physical health problems, suicide, violence and criminal activity. This is why we need to empower children and young people to speak out and report abuse because early intervention and professional help can make a real difference to their life.

About Grooming and Entrapment?

Adults and other young people who sexually abuse children often use a technique known as grooming to trick, coerce, force or threaten individuals into inappropriate sexual activity, using an imbalance of power and authority. Whilst there is no 100% foolproof system for protecting children and young people by understanding the grooming and entrapment process, it can help adults children and young people to identify possible unsafe grooming or threatening situations which can inturn prevent abuse from occurring.

The Grooming and Entrapment Process

  • Gainingtrust and being a friend
  • Grooming the environment
  • Gifts as bribes
  • Giving attention
  • Isolating
  • Coercion through flattery
  • Shaming and blackmail
  • Sexual desensitisation
  • Invading personal (social) space
Sex and the law?

Young people deciding to have sex with someone is an important decision. If a young person is 16 years or older and think they are ready to have sex, it is important that they be made aware of the different laws about sex in Australia. They also need to understand what the law means by sex.

Before having sex, young people should talk to a health professional about how to practice safe sex and to make sure they are fully aware of the risks of practicing unsafe sex.

Remember, it is NEVER OK for someone to force anyone to have sex without their permission. Everyone has the the right to say NO at any time.

Sex without consent is sexual assault.

The basic laws about sex are that people can’t have sex together if:

  • One of them is under the age of consent
  • One person doesn’t want to
  • They are in the same family

There are other Australian laws about sex which forbid these things:

  • Having sex if you are under 16
  • Having sex with someone who is under 16
  • Having sex with someone under 18 who is under your care supervision or authority e.g. teacher,doctor, coach, scoutmaster
  • Having sex or touching someone in a sexual way, when they haven’t given consent
  • Having sex with your child, brother or sister, including step-children, half-brothers and half-sisters
  • Forcing, tricking or pressuring someone into sexual activity
  • Threatening someone verbally or physically into taking part in sexual activity
  • Taking advantage of someone who is drunk or drugged
  • Continuing to engage in sexual activities with someone who has changed their mind
  • Creating, sending, receiving or forwarding sexual images via mobile phone of someone under 16 (nudes or sexting)
  • Intentionally transmitting HIV
  • Sending and receiving nudes of anyone without their permission
About the National Redress Scheme

Support for Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse.

On Wednesday 27 June 2018, the Western Australian Government announced that it will join the National Redress Scheme, which has been created in response to recommendations by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The Western Australian Government's participation in the National Redress Scheme will recognise and provide support to Western Australians who have experienced child sexual abuse in institutions.

The national scheme started on 1 July 2018 and will run for 10 years. Western Australia’s participation in the scheme began on 1 January 2019. Redress is an alternative to pursuing civil litigation through the courts.

What the scheme can provide

The National Redress Scheme can provide support in three ways;

  • A monetary payment
  • Access to counselling and psychological care
  • A direct personal response from the institution (eg. an apology)

Independent Decision Makers will consider the applications for redress, using guidelines to determine when an applicant is eligible and to ensure outcomes are as consistent as possible. The WA Government will assist the Commonwealth to ensure the Independent Decision Makers have the best available information to make a decision.

It is important to realise that you do not need to gather or request any information or supporting documents, you only need to complete the application form.

Who can apply

You can make an application under the scheme if:

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  • A person has experienced child sexual abuse while in the care of an institution or organisation
  • The abuse happened when the person was under 18
  • The abuse occurred before the start date of the scheme
  • The person applying is an Australian citizen or permanent resident
  • The institution or organisation responsible for the abuse has joined the scheme

The application form is straightforward and you can complete it online through the myGov website. Alternatively the application form can be completed manually by downloading the form from the National Redress Scheme website.

You may also call 1800 737 377 to ask for an application form to be sent to you. If you are under 18 years old, or have been sentenced to jail for five or more years, or have received previous payments related to the abuse, then your application may be processed differently. You may wish to seek further information or legal advice in relation to your circumstances.

A Redress Coordination Unit has been established within the Department of Justice. This unit is responsible for liaising with the State agencies and Commonwealth to ensure that the Independent Decision Makers have received the best available information to determine the application.  For further information on the National Redress Scheme and how to make an application please visit the Department of Justice website.

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