The safety and well-being of children is of paramount concern before, during, and after family separation. There is an increased risk of violence and abuse at separation.
If you have concerns about a child’s safety or for yourself, it’s important that you let someone know.
If a child is in immediate danger, call 000 now.
- Child protection
- Personal protection orders for a child
- Family courts and child abuse
- Family law definition of child abuse
- Counselling and referral services
- Related links
In Australia, child protection services are the responsibility of State and Territory governments.
For information about child protection in your state or territory or to make a report if you think a child is being abused or is at risk of harm, please select your state or territory below:
- Australian Capital Territory: Services For Children
- New South Wales: Services For Children
- Northern Territory: Services For Children
- South Australia: Services For Children
- Victoria: Services For Children
- Western Australia: Services For Children
- Tasmania: Services For Children
- Queensland: Services For Children
Personal protection orders for a child
Orders for the personal protection of a child (or another person) against violence or abuse are available under State and Territory legislation in State or Territory Magistrates Courts.
Depending on your State or Territory, violence orders may be called:
- Protection Order
- Intervention Order
- Restraining Order
- Apprehended Violence Order
- Domestic Violence Order
- Family Violence Order
Family courts and child abuse
Families with disputes about the future arrangements for their children must make a genuine effort to resolve the matter by Family Dispute Resolution before applying to a family law court, except in some circumstances.
Families do not have to attend Family Dispute Resolution services before applying to a court where there is:
- child abuse, or a risk of child abuse if there was a delay in applying for an order, or
- family violence, or a risk of family violence by one of the parties.
If there are circumstances of family violence or child abuse and you apply for parenting orders in a family court, you must also complete a Notice of Risk. This will notify the child protection authorities as well as the family law court of the circumstances.
Family law definition of child abuse
The definition of child abuse under the Family Law Act 1975 was amended in 2012 to ensure that a greater range of child abuse cases were reported to family courts. Exposing a child to family violence against other family members is itself regarded as abuse.
The definition of child abuse comprises:
- sexual assault and sexual exploitation
- serious neglect
- where the child is exposed to psychological harm, including by being exposed to family violence
Sam’s granddaughter Emily has told her that her recently separated parents fight and hit each other at changeover times, and also recently saw an ambulance arrive at the house. Sam is concerned about Emily witnessing this, and calls 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 to ask for information and advice.
Counselling and referral services
Generalist information, crisis counselling and referral services are available from anywhere in Australia, 24 hours a day through:
Kids Helpline – 1800 55 1800
Lifeline - 13 11 14
For information, referral and counselling about sexual assault, domestic or family violence and abuse, contact 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732.
1800RESPECT Protection Orders