17 Apr 2011

Commissioner has doubts over mandatory reporting

4:58 pm on 17 April 2011

The Children's Commissioner doubts mandatory reporting of abuse would make children safer.

A Government discussion paper due to be released in August will ask a number of questions, including whether doctors, nurses and teachers should be legally required to report cases of abuse.

Children's Commissioner John Angus says doctors, nurses and teachers are already required to report abuse under industry codes.

Mr Angus says reporting requirements are also often included in employment contracts for those working in the health and education sectors.

He says overseas experiences suggest mandatory reporting generates high levels of false positives.

Mr Angus says the legal requirement tends to cause health professionals and teachers to act on the side of caution.

He says that triggers a surge of complaints to agencies such as Child Youth and Family but often there is little change in the level of actual abuse found to be occurring.