Religious institutions and NSW's changing child protection landscape

  • Legislation in NSW relating to mandatory reporting and reportable conduct schemes came into effect on 1 March 2020.
  • Relevant entities, including religious bodies, must have systems in place for reportable conduct from 1 March 2020.
  • The definition of a ‘mandatory reporter’ now includes people in religious ministry, or people providing religion-based activities to children, to act as mandatory reporters.

Following recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in its Final Report, the State Government of NSW has streamlined the mandatory reporting and reportable conduct schemes, in legislation which came into effect on 1 March 2020 

These changes impact a range of organisations, and we address here the impact on religious bodies within NSW. 

The Children’s Guardian Act 2019 (the Act) expands the functions and responsibilities of the Office of the Children’s Guardian (Children's Guardian) to include responsibility for the reportable conduct scheme, currently managed by the Ombudsman's Office (the Expanded Scheme). Importantly, it also clarifies that the reportable conduct scheme includes the religious and faith-based sector.

The Act requires relevant entities, including religious bodies, to have systems in place for reportable conduct from 1 March 2020.

The Act also amends the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 (Care and Protection Act) and other legislative instruments such as the Adoption Act 2000 to further increase the safety, care and protection of children and young people. 

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