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If you suspect child abuse

Child abuse doesn’t go away and usually becomes more serious over time.

It’s important to act as soon as you suspect child abuse, or if a child tells you they’ve been abused.

If you suspect a child has been, or is being, abused find out how to report abuse.

You should also:

  • know and understand how to recognise child abuse
  • observe the child and write notes as soon as you become worried; pay attention to changes in their behaviour, feelings and the words they use
  • talk calmly with the child – showing a child that you’re worried about then if they look sad or unwell can encourage them to talk to you
  • avoid pressuring the child to answer your questions – give them time to answer your questions in their own way
  • let the child know that they can talk to you when they need to, and listen to them when they do
  • get expert advice by contacting Child Safety Services.

If a child tells you they’re being abused, you should:

  • remain calm — avoid looking shocked, panicked or in disbelief as the child needs to know you’re listening to them
  • find a private place to talk
  • ask questions like “can you tell me more about that?” and let the child talk in their own words
  • tell the child they’ve done the right thing by talking to you
  • not make promises you can’t keep, such as promising you won’t tell anyone — you need to tell someone so you can help the child
  • get professional advice about what you should do next — call us or the police
  • not contact the offender, regardless of who they are — our child safety officers or the police will talk to the offender
  • keep information confidential — only our child safety officers or the police should be told, at this time.

If a parent tells you their child has been abused by a partner, and the partner is no longer living with the child, you can still talk to us or the police. You can also encourage the parent to get help from Family and Child Connect.

Emergency contacts

Phone Triple Zero (000) if it's an emergency or if you believe a child is in immediate danger or in a life-threatening situation.

If you have reason to suspect a child is experiencing, or is at risk of abuse, contact:

  • a Regional Intake Service (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)
  • the Child Safety After Hours Service Centre on 1800 177 135 or (07) 3235 9999 (24 hours a day) if outside business hours.
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Last updated:
21 March 2018
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