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The investigation

See also:

Timing of the investigation

An investigation begins when a child protection worker assesses a report and believes that a child may need protection. An investigation determines:

  • whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that a child needs protection; and, if so,
  • what action is necessary to protect the child.

Immediate investigation

  • The investigation must be undertaken immediately if the child's health or safety is in immediate danger or the child is particularly vulnerable because of age or developmental level.

Delayed investigation

  • In any other case, the investigation must be undertaken within five working days of assessing the report, and completed within 30 days, wherever possible.

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The investigation

Sexual and physical abuse are crimes, so the police will be contacted for, as much as possible, a joint investigation. Neglect and emotional harm would not involve the police.

  • An investigation involves interviews, that could include talking to:
    • the child
    • the parents
    • brothers and sisters and anyone else who lives in the home
    • teachers
    • family doctor
    • anyone else the caller suggests may know about it.
  • A medical examination may be undertaken to make sure the child or youth is not hurt, or to ensure that if they are hurt, injuries are taken care of.
  • If the person who is believed to have abused you lives in the home, that person may be asked to leave the home during the investigation.
  • If it is sexual or physical abuse, the police talk to the person who did the abuse. Afterwards, the child protection worker will talk to that person as well.
  • After investigating, the child protection worker has to decide if there was abuse or neglect, or not.

See the diagram that provides an overview of the reporting and investigating process.


If the child protection worker has reasonable grounds to believe: Outcome
Child does not need protection

child protection worker takes no further action


child protection worker can arrange for family support, if the family wants it

Child needs protection and is NOT in immediate danger

child protection worker takes available measures that are least disruptive to the child, including:

  • support services
  • court order for essential health care
  • temporary provision for child to reside outside of home with parent consent
  • court order to remove offender from home, or prohibit contact with the child
  • remove the child
Child needs protection and is in immediate danger

child protection worker may remove the child

  • If the investigation reveals criminal offences, the police are contacted


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