Communities and Justice

What children's safety and risk means

The special role of parents

It takes a whole community to keep children safe, but parents have special responsibilities under the law. These are to:

  • give their child a safe home to live in and enough food and clothing
  • make sure their child gets medical care and an education
  • supervise their child and protect them from things or people that could hurt them
  • help their child to feel loved and cared for
  • not use violence against their child or against others.

There are times in life when it can be hard to meet your child’s needs. Often this happens if you are not safe or not supported well. It may be that you are living with poverty, trauma or disadvantage, which is not your fault.

The caseworker’s role is to work with you, your family and your community to make sure you can care for your child and live safely. It is strong and protective of you as a parent to ask for help.

When the law says a child or young person is at risk of significant harm

The law says a child is ‘at risk of significant harm’ if there are worries for their safety, welfare and wellbeing. This may be because one or more of the following has happened, is happening or is likely to happen to the child:

  • Their basic needs are not met. This could mean they are not given enough food, are not going to school regularly, are not clean, do not have a safe home to live in or they are not supervised properly. We call this neglect.
  • Their health needs are not taken care of. This could mean a child is sick but is not taken to a doctor, or the child has a disability but does not have any help.
  • They are hurt by someone or something. This could mean a child has or had bruises, broken bones or injuries because of violence or physical discipline, or because someone was not watching them.
  • They are sexually abused. This could mean a child is sexually harmed by an adult or another child.
  • They are hurt mentally and emotionally. This could mean a child is ignored, put down, yelled at, threatened or humiliated in a serious way.
  • A person is using violence against another person in the home. This is called domestic and family violence. This could mean threats, bullying, being forced to do things they do not want to do, being forced to stop talking to friends and family, not being allowed to have money, and physical acts like pushing, hitting or kicking.

The law says a child is 'in need of care and protection' if a child is at 'risk of significant harm' and DCJ needs to work with the family to keep their child safe into the future.

Last updated:

05 Jul 2024