A correspondent from WA is
… studying my degree in paramedicine. Prior to this I was a high school teacher and at the moment I am still registered with the Teachers Registration Board of Western Australia. Part of the responsibilities expected of a teacher is that we are legally obliged to report on any suspected child abuse. However, at the moment, paramedics are under no obligation other than moral to report on suspected or confirmed child abuse.
Hypothetically, if I were to maintain my registration as a teacher, while working within an ambulance and were to witness a situation involving child abuse would I still be legally required to report it, even though I am working within the role of an ambulance paramedic and am in the employ of the service?
The obligation to report suspected child sexual abuse is found in the Children and Community Services Act 2004 (WA) s 124B. That section says (emphasis added):
124B. Duty of certain people to report sexual abuse of children
(1) A person who —
(a) is a doctor, nurse, midwife, police officer, teacher or boarding supervisor; and
(b) believes on reasonable grounds that a child —
(i) has been the subject of sexual abuse that occurred on or after commencement day; or
(ii) is the subject of ongoing sexual abuse;
(c) forms the belief —
(i) in the course of the person’s work (whether paid or unpaid) as a doctor, nurse, midwife, police officer, teacher or boarding supervisor; and
(ii) on or after commencement day,
must report the belief as soon as practicable after forming the belief.
It follows that if my correspondent forms the belief that a child has been the subject of sexual abuse but that information only comes to him or her because of the employment as a paramedic, and not ‘in the course of the person’s work … as a … teacher…’ then the obligation imposed by s 124B does not apply.
As for reporting on crimes that are observed whilst working as a paramedic, see:
- Discovering crime during an emergency response (July 19, 2016);
- Paramedics and Patient Confidentiality number 2 (July 23, 2015).