I was pleased to read that the Queensland State Government in Australia has decided against introducing mandatory reporting, despite a petition calling for new laws making it an offence for childcare workers not to report suspected cases of abuse. Instead it has been decided to put in place reforms recommended under the Queensland Child Protection Commission of Inquiry. These include improving prevention and support services and the statutory response to children at risk of significant harm. Stronger reporting guidelines will be drawn up making it clearer when childcare workers should report abuse.
This is clearly the right way to go. I hope those in England campaigning for mandatory reporting in response to the tragic death of Daniel Pelka will take note of what is happening in Queensland.
Mandatory reporting will not bring about safer services – and may even make children less safe, because it will make practitioners defensive. Helping professionals to be better at recognising child abuse and neglect and being better informed about how to respond seems to be a much more constructive way forward.