Live Chat

What is child abuse?

If you believe that your children are unsafe with your partner, due to a risk of family violence or child abuse, get urgent legal advice.

The Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) defines child abuse as:

  • an assault (including sexual assault) of a child
  • involving a child in sexual activity where the child is used as a sexual object, or there is an unequal power relationship between the child and the abuser
  • exposing a child to family violence
  • serious neglect of a child

What if I fear for my child’s safety because of family violence or child abuse?

If you believe that your children are unsafe with your partner, due to a risk of family violence or child abuse, get urgent legal advice. You may consider applying for an intervention order on their behalf to protect them, or making a report to the DHHS in Victoria or Police.

If you or your children’s immediate safety is at risk, notify Police on 000 or DHHS Child Protection Crisis Line 131 278 immediately.

Calling either DHHS or the police may result in them taking action with serious consequences for you and your family. Therefore, it is very important that you get legal advice if you are unsure about making a report.

If you are concerned that your child has been sexually abused, call Child Wise National Child Abuse Helpline 1800 991 099 or contact your nearest Centre Against Sexual Assault for counselling and support. Find your closest centre.

Where can I go for help?

If you believe that your children are unsafe with your partner, you can contact WIRE at any time between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday.

Contact us here

‘Failure to disclose’ offence

The offence for failure to disclose child sexual abuse to the police came into effect on 27 October 2014, and applies to all adults, not just professionals who work with children. Any adult who believes that an adult has committed a sexual offence against a child in Victoria, must report to police, unless they have a reasonable excuse for not reporting.

For details see ‘New criminal offences to improve responses to child sexual abuse‘ from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

Mandatory reporting in Victoria

In Victoria, the Children Youth and Families Act 2005 section 182 (1) and 184 states that any teachers, principals, doctors, nurses, midwives or police who have reasonable grounds to believe that

  • a child has suffered, or is likely to suffer, significant harm as a result of physical injury or sexual abuse, and
  • the child’s parents have not protected or are unlikely to protect the child from such harm,

must report to Child Protection Services as soon as practicable.

For details, see the Fact Sheet on Mandatory Reporting Victoria.

This information sheet was last updated in 2015

Stay Updated

Stay up to date with the latest news from WIRE; empowering women, one fortnightly e-bulletin at a time!