Identifying abuse and neglect

A child needs action being taken on their behalf whenever: 
  • a child has suffered, or is likely to suffer, harm because of abuse or neglect including living in a household where they are exposed to family and domestic violence  
  • a child’s parents are unable to arrange or provide adequate care 
  • a child has been abandoned by his or her parents or the child’s parents are dead or incapacitated and there is no suitable adult guardian available. 
You may have concerns because you have observed physical or behavioural indicators, you have received a disclosure, or you have other information that gives rise to the belief that a child is possibly being abused or neglected. 

If you are uncertain about whether your concerns require action, refer to the Guidelines for Protecting Children 2015 (PDF 1.3MB) for a full explanation of your obligations and what you need to do as a health professional. 

Please note: Health staff are not responsible for conducting full scale investigations in order to confirm or deny their current concerns. This is the responsibility for the Department of Communities and/or WA Police

The signs of child abuse, neglect and/or family violence may not be easy to observe, and no single indicator should be interpreted as confirmation of abuse or neglect. 

The Guidelines for Protecting Children 2015 (PDF 1.3MB) provide more detailed information on what you may be able to observe or assess indicators of: 
  • physical abuse/inflicted injury 
  • sexual abuse 
  • emotional abuse 
  • family and domestic violence 
  • neglect. 

Female genital cutting/mutilation

Female genital cutting/mutilation: a guide for health professionals (PDF 320KB) 


Clients of concern management protocol – for Community Health  

Last Updated: 27/10/2020