Department of Education

Child Protection

Protective Behaviours - Skills for Life
Protective Behaviours - Skills for Life

Child Protection

Child Protection ‹ Glossary


Browse the alphabetically listed glossary definitions below:

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Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Education Officer

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A child is defined as a person who has not reached the age of 18.

Child abuse

Child abuse occurs when a child has been subjected to physical, sexual, emotional or psychological abuse and/or neglect which has resulted or is likely to result in harm to the child's wellbeing. It may involve ongoing, repeated or persistent abuse, or arise from a single incident.

Child protection concern

A concern about the welfare of a child based on the observation of indicators or information that may lead to a belief formed on reasonable grounds that a child has been the subject of abuse.


Refers to the protection of personal, private and sensitive information. Professional codes of conduct and the Department’s Staff Conduct policy reinforce the importance of protecting an individual’s privacy.

Criminal behaviour

Criminal behaviour to be reported includes:
• assault e.g. an unwanted physical or sexual contact
• indecent assault e.g. touching, fondling or grabbing in a sexual manner
• indecent dealings e.g. encouraging a child to perform indecent acts such as touching genitals, penis/digital penetration or oral sex
• possessing, downloading or distributing child pornography
• using electronic means to procure or expose children to indecent material; and
• female genital mutilation, female circumcision.

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Duty of care

A duty imposed by the law to take care to minimise the risk of harm to another.

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Emotional / psychological abuse

The sustained, repetitive and ongoing maltreatment by a parent/carer or person in authority of a child through behaviours including threatening, belittling, teasing, humiliating, bullying, neglecting, ignoring, isolating, misleading and encouragement to engage in inappropriate behaviour.

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Guidelines contain advice and examples of good practice for implementing policy. Guidelines are not mandatory.

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Mandatory reporter

All doctors, nurses, midwives, police and teachers who form a belief based on reasonable grounds of child sexual abuse during the course of their work, either voluntary or paid, are mandatory reporters. For the purposes of the legislation, ‘teacher’ is defined as any person registered with the Teacher Registration Board of Western Australia (TRBWA) or with provisional registration or who has a limited authority to teach (LAT) and is working as a teacher.

Mandatory reporting legislation

Mandatory reporting legislation requires specific people or professions to report concerns of child abuse to child protection agencies. In Western Australia, the legislation covering mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse is the Children and Community Services Act 2004.

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The intentional failure by parents/carers to provide, arrange, or allow the provision of, adequate care, effective medical, therapeutic or remedial treatment. It includes abandonment, failing to provide adequate food or shelter and/or care, nurturance or supervision to a severe and/or persistent extent.

Non-consensual sexual contact

Sexual contact based on unequal power between a victim and alleged person, involving an element of coercion that may result in fear, humiliation or intimidation. Non-consensual sexual contact is a serious breach of school discipline and includes criminal behaviour such as assault, indecent assault, indecent dealings and sexual penetration without consent.

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The term 'parent' is used for brevity and includes 'responsible person'. Part 1, Section 4 of the School Education Act 1999 defines 'parent' in relation to a child as a person who at law has responsibility:

  1. for the long-term care, welfare and development of the child OR
  2. for the day-to-day care, welfare and development of the child except in Sections 9(2), 10(b), 25, 27, 38(1) and Division 2, Part 2 where it only has the meaning given by paragraph (b).

In Section 25 of the School Education Act 1999, 'responsible person' in relation to a student means:

  1. a parent of the student
  2. in the case of a student who has turned 18 or is a prescribed child, the student OR
  3. a person whose details have been provided under Section 16(1)(b)(ii)(II) which states any adult person, not being a parent, who is responsible for the child.

Physical abuse

Abuse perpetrated through behaviours such as beating, shaking, administration of alcohol and illicit drugs, attempted suffocation or excessive discipline or physical punishment. It does not include accidental injury.


Detailed specification of steps and processes to be observed by employees of the Director General. Contravention of a procedure may constitute a breach of discipline pursuant to section 80 of the Public Sector Management Act 1994 or and Section 239(3) of the School Education Act 1999.

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Qualified privilege

A staff member is legally protected from incurring civil or criminal liability or professional misconduct when providing confidential information concerning suspected child abuse in good faith to the Department for Child Protection or the WA Police.

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School activity

An activity that is organised or managed by a member of the school staff as part of his or her duties.

Sexual abuse

Any type of sexual behaviour involving a child where the child:

  • is the subject of bribery, coercion, a threat, exploitation or violence OR
  • has less power than another person involved in the behaviour OR
  • there is a significant disparity in the developmental function or maturity of the child and another person involved in the behaviour.

It includes sexual penetration, encouraging a child to perform indecent acts such as touching genitals, penis/digital penetration or oral sex, inappropriate touching, exposure to sexual acts or pornographic materials and using electronic means to procure or expose a child to indecent material.

Sexual harassment

Any form of sexual attention that is unwelcome, uninvited and unreciprocated, which makes a person feel humiliated, intimidated or offended. Behaviours must be considered within the developmental level of the child. Where a student is old enough to anticipate that their actions would cause distress to another person, an intention ‘not to harm’ is no defence. Sexual harassment includes:

  • spoken or written harassment e.g. sexualised jokes or obscene remarks
  • non-verbal harassment (e.g. glaring/staring/gesturing in a sexual way), presence of suggestive or sexual magazines/pictures/posters/etc. on display or contained in a person’s belongings;
  • electronic harassment e.g. sending sexually suggestive comments, obscene messages or jokes.


Staff is defined as all persons employed by the Director General of the Department of Education including both teaching and support staff.

Support staff

Support staff includes public service officers, other officers and waged staff. Support staff include but are not limited to the following positions: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education officers, registrars, school officers, education assistants, library assistants, laboratory assistants, home economics assistants, participation coordinators, attendance officers, youth support officers, social trainers and school based community liaison officers.

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Teacher (definition of)

A teacher for the purposes of mandatory reporting is defined as:

'... a person who under the Western Australian College of Teaching Act 2004, is registered, provisionally registered or has a limited authority to teach'.

Teaching staff

Teaching staff includes but is not limited to administrators, principals, deputy principals, teachers, heads of schools, heads of departments, program coordinators, coordinators, managers, senior lecturers and heads of learning areas. Other classes of teaching staff include staff that hold a teaching qualification recognised by the Department and are employed as teachers.

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