Dealing with disclosures



The disclosure by students of personal issues is a possibility in any program that addresses sexuality and relationships. Teachers must be aware of school and legal procedures if a student does disclose personal issues, particularly disclosures of sexual abuse.

Disclaimer: The information given here is intended for information only. If you have a legal issue, you should see a lawyer.

Disclosures of sexual identity/feelings/behaviour

Disclosures of sexual identity/feelings/behaviour concerning themselves or a member of their family may occur if students feel safe and secure. If a student begins to disclose, the teacher can protectively interrupt and suggest the student rephrase the comment using the third person.

Disclosures of assault

Everyone working in a school is responsible for the care and protection of children, and for reporting concerns about child protection. The WA Department of Education's Child Protection policy explains the actions to be taken by staff to protect children in circumstances where abuse is suspected or when allegations of child abuse are made (emotional, physical, sexual, neglect or a child witnessing violence).

Further information is available at the WA Department of Education's Child Protection website.

  • Types of child abuse

  • Definitions

  • How should I respond if a child discloses?

  • What is protective interrupting?

  • Indicators of abuse

Disclosures of sexual abuse

The Children and Community Services Amendment (Reporting Sexual Abuse of Children) Act 2008 requires teachers by law to report alleged child sexual abuse to the Mandatory Reporting Service (MRS) of the Department for Child Protection and Family Support (CPFS).

Teachers, boarding supervisors, police, doctors, nurses and midwives are now legally required to report a belief formed on reasonable grounds of child sexual abuse to MRS. The Act stipulates the penalties that apply for failing to report sexual abuse.

It is not mandatory to report child sexual abuse that occurred before 1 January 2009. Such reports should be made through the principal to the local CPFS office.

A verbal report can be made, but this must be followed by a written report as soon as is practicable, preferably within 24 hours.

  • Department for Child Protection's Mandatory Reporting Service on 1800 708 704 or online.

After a report is made the Mandatory Reporting Service will:

  • acknowledge receipt of the report

  • provide the Western Australia Police with a copy of every written report

  • make enquiries and an assessment to take the necessary action

  • assist the Western Australia Police, who may undertake a separate investigation.

Professional development

All Department of Education (WA) teaching and support staff, boarding supervisors and line managers of staff who have contact with children must complete the online Child Protection and Abuse Prevention course within 6 months of enrolment in the online course. Enrolment occurs automatically for staff who have an E number.

Staff are required to update professional learning in Child Protection and Abuse Prevention every three years from the date of completion. Once this date has elapsed, their status will revert to Not Attempted.

This teaching note appears in the following learning activities: